UN: Extreme poverty declines but inequality persists
A recent report from the United Nations Development Program has found that extreme poverty in Peru has seen a strong decrease over the last decade, however widespread inequities still persist.
In 2009, 11.5 percent of Peruvians were living in extreme poverty, compared to 23 percent in 2002. However, inequalities in Peru are still prevalent particularly with regards to infrastructure, gender and ethnicity.
According to the UN’s 2010 Regional Report on Human Development for Latin America and the Caribbean, access to water in Peru is the most unequal in the region. For access to electricity, Peru is the third most unequal country in the region, only ahead of Bolivia and Honduras.
There is also a large gaps between genders, ethnicities, education, a place of residence, among others, according to UN representative Rebeca Arias.
“A girl that lives in the rural highlands of the country is four times more likely to be poor and three times more likely to not finish secondary school compared to a girl born in Lima,” daily El Comercio quoted Arias as saying.
The study also reported that in urban centers, Peru’s level of informal employment has decreased over the past decade, however it is still one of the highest in the region, only to be outdone by Bolivia.
In 2008, 59.3 percent of Peruvians in urban centers worked in the informal sector, compared to 64.1 percent in 1999. The rate is highest for women at 67.1 percent in 2008, compared to 52.9 percent for men.
In general, Latin American countries continue to be among the most unequal in the world.
“Ten of the 15 countries in the world with the highest levels of inequality are Latin American,” said Isidro Soloaga, the academic coordinator of the UN report. In terms of poverty, the most affected groups in the region are populations of indigenous and African descent, while women continue to earn on average half of what their male colleagues earn. “But they work more because they also do house work which is not paved,” Arias said.
To address the problem of inequality in Latin America, the UNDP says it is necessary to increase social investments and for the state to have a policy to design social programs in addition to improving the distribution of income.