ECLAC: Latin American Poverty at Lowest in 20 Years

Poverty in Latin America, often seen as one of the world’s most unequal regions, has dropped by 17 percentage points over the past 20 years, according to a report published Tuesday by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, ECLAC.

ECLAC said in its report, Social Panorama of Latin America 2011, that the region’s poverty rate has dipped to 31.4 percent in 2010 from 48.4 percent in 1990, thanks to an increase in labor income.

But the figures are still high. ECLAC estimates that by the end of this year, 174 million people in Latin America will be living in poverty, including 73 million in extreme poverty.

“Poverty and inequality continue to decline in the region, which is good news, particularly in the midst of an international economic crisis. However, this progress is threatened by the yawning gaps in the productive structure in the region and by the labor markets which generate employment in low-productivity sectors without social protection,” said ECLAC executive secretary Alicia Barcena.

ECLAC said that Peru was one of five countries that saw a significant decrease in poverty rates between 2009 and 2010. ECLAC said Peru had a 3.5 point decrease.

Peru’s National Institute of Statistics and Information, INEI, says that 31.3 percent of Peruvians were living in poverty in 2010, down from 34.8 percent in 2009 and 54.7 percent in 2001.

Strong economic growth in Peru during the past decade thanks to political and fiscal stability has led to the decrease in poverty.

The other countries with large decreases were Ecuador (-3.0 points), Argentina (-2.7 points), Uruguay (-2.0 points) and Colombia (-1.4 points).

Mexico and Honduras were the only countries in the region that saw an increase in poverty and extreme poverty rates, ECLAC said.

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