Uruguay, Chile and Brazil are three of the five most socially inclusive countries in the hemisphere according to the 2013 AQ Social Inclusion Index, which was published today in the newly released Summer issue of Americas Quarterly. Although Chile and Brazil score lower than in the 2012 Index, the three Southern Cone countries rank in the top five for the second year in a row. The United States and Costa Rica round out the top-five rankings this year, while Argentina was excluded again from the Index due to a lack of reliable data.
Uruguay’s ascension to the top spot of the 16 Western Hemisphere countries in the Index was primarily due to the addition of three new variables in this year’s Index: women’s rights, LGBT rights, and financial inclusion by gender. While Uruguay ranked in the top three for both women’s rights and LGBT rights, Chile, the most inclusive country in the 2012 Index, ranked ninth and seventh, respectively.
The Index also found correlations between social inclusion and violence in the region. In addition to increased gender equality, the top-three countries in the Index—Uruguay, Chile and the United States—also had the lowest homicide rates in 2010. By contrast, three of the five least inclusive countries—Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, all part of Central America’s Northern Triangle region—had the highest homicide rates during the same period.
AQ Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini, commenting on the rise of the middle class in Latin America and the link with social inclusion, notes that being middle class is more than just one’s income: “It’s about a sense of empowerment and is about having access to rights and things like social insurance, whether it’s health care or education.”