Latin America: Poverty Lowest in 30 Years

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A report released yesterday by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC, or CEPAL in Spanish) revealed a decrease in poverty rates in the region, but warned that 167 million people still live in poverty.

The report, called ‘Social Panorama of Latin America 2012′, indicates that one million Latin Americans left poverty in the past year, lowering the rate to 28.8%, down from 29.4% in 2011. Extreme poverty remained stable at 66 million people.

“The current poverty and extreme poverty rates are the lowest we have seen in the last three decades, which is good news for the region, but we are still facing unacceptable levels in many countries,” said ECLAC’s Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena during the report’s presentation in Santiago de Chile yesterday. Women and children are the most vulnerable groups, and 51% of poor people are under-18s.

The downward trend in poverty in Latin America is set to continue, though at a lower rate, thanks to the economic growth and moderate inflation forecast for the region. An increase in wages for lower income households, as well as a decrease in unemployment rates, has been the strongest contributing factor to the reduction in poverty. The countries with the highest  improvements in the area were Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Panama.

Another improvement recorded by the report is that related to income distribution, although the UN body warns that this is still one of the biggest challenges facing the region. The latest statistics show that, in average, the 10% richest segment of the Latin American population receives 32% of the total income, whilst the 40% poorest only receives 15%.

 

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