The UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) released a report yesterday in Santiago which detailed the marked decline in poverty rates across Latin America since 1990. According to the report, “Social Panorama of Latin America 2011,” the region’s poverty rate fell from 48.4 percent in 1990 to 31.4 percent in 2010. Similarly, the indigence rate decreased in the same time period from 22.6 percent to 12.3 percent.
Despite these encouraging signs of growth, there were still 177 million poor people in Latin America at the end of 2010, 70 million of whom were living in extreme poverty. Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of ECLAC, commented, “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.”
The report noted that poverty increased during the 20-year span in Honduras and Mexico, at 1.7 percent and 1.5 percent respectively. The biggest declines were in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Uruguay.
In ECLAC’s announcement of the report, the economic body projected that the region’s poverty rate would close at 30.4 percent at the end of 2011—meaning 3 million less people will be living in poverty at the start of 2012 than at the end of 2010. However, due to the increase in food prices, ECLAC expects the indigence rate will rise to 12.8 percent by year’s end.