As the Central Intelligence Agency indicates, the fertility rate in Brazil over the last five decades has dropped from six children per women to approximately fewer than two. This substantial shift in the Brazilian demographical records is often compared to the China’s one child policy which has produced similar results. However, if in China the responsibility over declining birth rates lies within the power of its government, Brazil presents the extraordinary impact of soap operas. It is believed that the popularity of telenovelas has altered Brazilian values: the number of divorces grew and modern family methods emerged.
The most influential soap operas are being produced by the leading Brazilian network, TV Globo, which takes part in the Rede Globo media conglomerate. Straight after the evening news, Globo’s primetime telenovela starts and it is usually watched by 200 million people. Normally it contains of 150 episodes and after they are finished, new series begin. One of the latest Globo’s projects, telenovela “Avenida Brasil” shortly after its start produced a sensational effect on country’s population, especially on women. It emphasized the struggles of growing Brazilian middle class and concentrated on the lives of ordinary people, rather than on the wealthy ones. The novela caused a new wave of consumption and is even held responsible for the expansion of the middle class. What is more, women were encouraged to create their own independent future and strive for their ultimate goals.
However, it is unreasonable to assert that the drop in the Brazilian birth rates is only associated with the popularity of soap operas. Brazil’s economic development, urbanization and vast modernization also play a significant role in re-forming country’s diverse society. For instance, improvements in the national pension programmes relieved middle class parents of the conviction that a large family will be their only support in their old age. Consequently, the idea of “just-in-case” children was abandoned. Furthermore, raising more than two children became a matter of luxury, since in nowadays modern Brazil having a child means paying additional taxes for schooling, health care and other facilities.
Nonetheless, the impact of dramatic stories which are constantly being watched by the majority of Brazilian women constitutes an inevitable fact: women are being inspired to pursue a career, seek for a better life quality and start a family only when they are sure that their future children will have access to a proper education, material prosperity and daily amenities. It is for this reason that the role of soap opera cannot be underestimated not only in Brazil, but also in other parts of Latin America. At some point, it may even seem unbelievable that telenovelas can become that popular and influential, however it is relevant to take into consideration the fact that today’s media has the possibility to sell a vision of a better life.