Poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean has dropped to its lowest level in three decades, and the number of people living in poverty has declined by one million in just over the past 12 months, says a latest study from ECLAC.
This year will end with 167 million people (28.8 percent of the population) living in poverty, but those facing extreme poverty have been at the same level as last year, noted the UN agency.
According the agency, nearly 66 million people are in extreme poverty in the region. Poverty in Latin America will continue to decline, but at a slower rate than in recent years.
The report titled ‘Social Panorama of Latin America 2012’ was released Tuesday at the ECLAC headquarters in Santiago, Chile.
According to the report, 168 million Latin Americans, 29.4 percent of the region’s population, were living under the poverty line in 2011.
As in previous years, the rise in wages for poor households was the main factor in poverty reduction, the report noted.
“Current poverty and indigence rates are the lowest for three decades, and this is good news, but we are still facing unacceptable levels in many countries. The challenge is to generate quality jobs as part of a development model based on equality and environmental sustainability,” Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary, ECLAC.
The most recent available statistics for 18 countries indicate that, on average, the richest 10% of the Latin American population receives 32% of total income, while the poorest 40% receive just 15% of income.
In addition, ECLAC points out a different trend in the region’s public social spending. Up to 2010, such spending continued to rise in Latin America, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of total public spending and GDP. However, partial data from 2011 indicate that there is tendency towards a relative shrinkage of social spending to shore up public finances.