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Report on the State of Poverty in Latin America: ECLAC Posted by on Jan 28, 2008 in Uncategorized

In he midst of much negative press coming out of Latin America, there is one piece of news that is cause for celebration. Last month, the UN’s Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) released its report on the current state of poverty in the region, Social Panorama of Latin America 2007, applauding last year’s progress and stating optimistically that the region is 87% of the way to the goal of halving its 1990 poverty levels by 2015. Between 2005 and 2006, Latin America and the Caribbean experienced a 3% reduction in poverty, and extreme poverty (characterized by a family’s inability to afford food for all members) was lowered by 2%. The report remarks that the achievements in poverty reduction are even more positive than they might seem, because they represent the 3rd year of continuous improvement, in sharp contrast to the years of stagnation experienced prior to 2004.

The greatest improvements between 2002 and 2006 were seen in Argentina and Venezuela, which dropped poverty by 24.4% and 18.4% and extreme poverty by 13.7 and 12.3 respectively. In the case of Venezuela, these results were attributed to the aggressive implementation of social programs by that country’s government. Overall improvement across the region is attributed to general economic growth, leading to the largest increase in GDP per capita since the 1970s.

Unfortunately, there were also a couple of countries that experiences an increase in

poverty in the period 2002-2006. Bolivia and Uruguay saw small increases in the number of impoverished, while extreme poverty increased in Uruguay and the Dominican Republic.

Despite the generally optimistic findings of the Social Panorama report, there is plenty of progress still to be made. The report cites that the current level of poverty across the region is 36.5%, while extreme poverty affects 13.4% of the population. Although these are the lowest levels since 1980, they are still very high and the region continues to be characterized by enormous economic inequality.

Read the Spanish version of the report here: http://www.eclac.org/cgi-bin/getProd.asp?xml=/publicaciones/xml/5/30305/P30305.xml&xsl=/dds/tpl/p9f.xsl&base=/tpl/top-bottom.xsl

Read the English version of the report here: http://www.eclac.org/cgi-bin/getProd.asp?xml=/publicaciones/xml/9/30309/P30309.xml&xsl=/dds/tpl-i/p9f.xsl&base=/tpl-i/top-bottom.xsl

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