Decline in Latin poverty rate stalls

Poverty affected 28 percent of Latin America’s population in 2014, revealing that its decline has stalled at around that level since 2012, while extreme poverty rose to 12 percent from 11.3 percent during the same two-year period in an overall context of economic deceleration, according to the projections from a study presented by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile.

The document “Social Panorama of Latin America 2014” indicates that the poverty situation in the region remained stable between 2012 and 2013, when it affected 28.1 percent of the population. It is estimated for 2014 that in percentage terms poverty should stay at around 28 percent, which, given demographic growth, would translate into an increase in absolute figures to 167 million people.

Meanwhile, extreme poverty rose to 11.7 percent in 2013 from 11.3 percent in 2012, which supposes an increase of three million people that raised the total to 69 million. Projections indicate that in 2014 that figure likely increased to 12 percent, which means that of the 167 million people who were poor that year, 71 million suffered extreme poverty or indigence.

“The recovery from the international financial crisis does not seem to have been taken advantage of sufficiently to strengthen social protection policies that reduce vulnerability in the face of economic cycles. Now, in a scenario of a possible reduction in available fiscal resources, more efforts are needed to fortify these policies, establishing solid foundations with the aim of fulfilling the commitments of the post-2015 development agenda,” said Alicia Bárcena, the organization’s executive secretary.

Despite the lack of progress seen in the regional average, five of the 12 countries with available information through 2013 showed declines in poverty as measured by income that exceeded 1 percentage point per year. The countries that showed the biggest reductions were Paraguay (to 40.7 percent in 2013 from 49.6 percent in 2011), followed by El Salvador (to 40.9 percent in 2013 from 45.3 percent in 2012), Colombia (to 30.7 percent in 2013 from 32.9 percent in 2012), Peru (to 23.9 percent in 2013 from 25.8 percent in 2012) and Chile (to 7.8 percent in 2013 from 10.9 percent in 2011).

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