A new report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Cepal) has revealed that around 167 million Latin Americans in 19 countries were living below the poverty line in 2014.
The groups most affected were children, women, those of Afro descent, indigenous groups and disabled individuals.
During a summit in Lima on Monday, the commission aims to increase measures to combat inequality, steadily rising over the past few years. Despite many Latin American countries profiting from an economic boom in the early 2000s, poverty is once again on the up across the region.
While it is estimated 66 million people lived in extreme poverty in 2012, this figure rose to 71 million last year.
Stilted economic growth
“Cepal’s latest predictions for economic growth in 2015 were at around 0.3 percent, with negative effects on the labor market and increased unemployment predicted as a result. At the same time, the increase in extreme poverty has a knock on effect on consumption in the household, negatively impacting internal markets in countries and thus slowing down the economy,” Laís Abramo, director of Cepal’s Social Development Division told daily El Tiempo.
Public spending cuts and drops in monthly salaries were also used to calculate developments in inequality margins, in Colombia in 2013 families earning under 95,833 pesos (around $33) per month were considered to be living in a state of poverty.
In Mexico, public spending per capita was recorded at 953 dollars, around 14.9 percent of the national GDP, markedly less than the 265,ooo dollars and 18.8 percent GDP recorded in Argentina, Uruguay, Brasil, Chile, Costa Rica and Panama, according to la Jornada de Oriente. This means that Mexico’s poorer communities only have access to 6.5 percent of the country’s earnings, while a fifth of the population accesses 38 percent.
Despite managing to reduce poverty to 15.7 percent in Mexico alone last year, Sopitas reports, there is still work to be done across the region. While the rich sectors of the population benefit from cheaper technology, access to private healthcare systems and imported goods, the inequality gap looks set to grow.
As local councils are encouraged to boost employment opportunities and access to education, a change in the region’s economic landscape looks set to contribute to the problem. As salaries drop and public spending is slashed, there is no quick fix to what looks set to be a growing concern across the region.