Latin America is home to the world’s most unequal distribution of wealth, even more so than poorer regions like Africa.
Even though its economic growth has helped reduce poverty over the past decade, inequality continues.
“It is easy to show that economic growth brings with it a reduction in poverty,” said the 2011 Latin American Report on Poverty and Inequality, by the Chile-based Latin American Rural Development Center. “If we measure poverty by income, by how much a country’s income increases, more people are above the poverty line. But that doesn’t happen with inequality, which persists despite growth.”
The report, presented in early May, focused on land inequality, one of the least-studied phenomena of inequality issues, in 10 Latin American countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru, using six distinct issues including health, education, economic dynamism and employment, income and poverty, security, and gender equality.
“The average socioeconomic indicators in each country often hide the significant differences” of different parts of each nation, such as rural and urban areas, said the report. “That’s how some social indicators … can make it seem that there aren’t any problems in the sphere they are measuring.”
Instead, the report noted, the average figure could be satisfactory in some areas and unsatisfactory in others.
The report added that looking only at average figures does not help the design or implementation of public policies that help to counter poverty or inequality, since the peculiarities of each area or territory are not analyzed.
“Lagging territories are mostly rural and sparsely populated, with many indigenous people, minors under the age of 15 and elderly people, and marked gender inequality,” said the report.