Extreme poverty in Latin America in 2017 reached the maximum level of the last ten years to affect 62 million people, representing 10.2% of the entire population, as reported today in Santiago, Chile Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
In its report "Social Panorama of Latin America 2018", with data from December of the previous year, ECLAC said that despite the upward trend of extreme poverty in the last three years, the proportion of the poor remained stable as it affected to a total of 184 million, a total of 30.2% of the Latin American population.
"There are countries that have made great progress in extreme poverty, almost surpassing it in the case of Chile, Uruguay and Argentina," Cepal executive secretary Alicia Bárcena told Efe.
But he added that "undoubtedly where we need to pay more attention is in Central America, especially in Mexico and Honduras, places where extreme poverty has increased with effects on immigration."
The countries that most reduced poverty between 2015 and 2017, according to the document, were Chile, from 13.7 to 10.7%; Argentina, from 21.5 to 18.7%, El Salvador, from 42.6 to 37.8%, and Paraguay, from 23.4 to 21.6%, while it increased in Brazil, from 18.8 to 19.9%
According to the ECLAC analysis, the greatest reductions in poverty go hand in hand with an increase in the labor income of low-income households in Chile, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, while in Costa Rica, Panama and Uruguay the main factor was Pensions and transfers received by households with fewer resources.
"With social spending per capita can be analyzed more precisely in which countries is giving more importance to this issue because families of extreme poverty are more sensitive to public support, for example with pensions," said Bárcenas.
"But we must also do more to include labor policies, which is where there is more informality," he added.
In this sense, the report highlights that more than half of employed people in Latin America do not contribute and that only 48.1% are affiliated to pension systems.
"Therefore, we recommend that countries promote employment inclusion policies related to training, work incentives and protection against unemployment, which are very specific measures aimed especially at the young and extremely poor population," explained Bárcena.
According to the report, social spending in the countries analyzed is lower in those that require greater and urgent investment in social policies.
As for the subregions, the Central American countries allocate an average of 9.3% of GDP to social spending while the Caribbean invests 11.6% and the South American region 12.8%.
The report "Social Panorama in Latin America of 2018" also emphasizes "the gaps between different population groups and areas of residence".
According to the document, poverty is 20% higher in rural areas and affects indigenous people 23% more.
In addition, the poverty rate of children and adolescents is 19% higher than in people between 35 and 44 years old.
The document presented on Tuesday also concludes that the labor activity rate of women is 24.2% lower than that of men.
"Women are less likely to participate in the labor market due to the high burden of unpaid domestic work, in particular, the percentage of young women in the region who do not study and do not work is almost three times higher than in men, be at 31.2% and 11.5%, respectively, "according to the report.
Given this "transitional" scenario, the Executive Director of ECLAC recommended to the countries of the region "to promote social spending, strengthen social protection and encourage public and private investment in matters of sustainable development".
Regarding the forecast of next year's report, Bárcena said that a stagnation of 10.2% of the population in extreme poverty is expected "although it may be that the number of people affected increases due to population growth".
"In the case of poverty in general, we believe that it can decrease by up to one percentage point," Bárcena concluded.