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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
Poverty declines
12/16/2012
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Poverty levels continue to decrease in the region, but inequality remains.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, or ECLAC, 2012 will end with 167 million people under poverty in the region, a million less than in 2011, which is equivalent to 28.8 percent of the 580 million inhabitants. However, the number of people under extreme poverty will remain 66 million, the same as 2011.

The report “Social Panorama of Latin America 2012,” presented on Nov. 27, points out that the tendency for poverty to decline in the region is due to this year’s positive growth and moderate inflation. Yet, the most important factor was the increase in wages for low-income households.

“The current poverty and indigence rates are the lowest observed in the last three decades, which is good news for the region,” indicated Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the ECLAC, during the presentation of the report. “But we still have unacceptable [poverty and indigence] levels in many countries. The challenge is generating quality jobs in a development model framework guided towards equality and environmental sustainability.”

However, the decrease in poverty has not led to a decrease in income inequality.

“One of the major challenges still facing Latin America is how to bring down its high levels of income distribution inequality,” states the report. “In most of the countries, a large share of all income is concentrated in a small segment of the population while the poorest receive a very small proportion. The simple average of figures for the 18 countries on which relatively recent data are available shows that the wealthiest 10 percent of the population receives 32 percent of total income while the poorest 40 percent receives 15 percent of total income.”

Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic are the countries with the highest levels of income concentration, reaching 40 percent for the richest and between 11 percent and 15 percent for the poorest. Uruguay and Venezuela have the lowest levels of income concentration, with ratios between 20 percent and 23 percent on both ends.
—Latinamerica Press.

LATIN AMERICA/THE CARIBBEAN
Individuals under poverty and indigence 2011 (%)

Countries
Poverty
Indigence
Paraguay
49.6
28.0
Dominican Rep.
42.2
20.3
Colombia
34.2
10.7
Ecuador
32.4
10.1
Venezuela
29.5
11.7
Peru
27.8
6.3
Panama
25.3
12.4
Brazil
20.9
6.1
Costa Rica
18.8
7.3
Chile
11.0
3.1
Uruguay
6.7
1.1
Argentina
5.7
1.9

Source: ECLAC


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