ECLAC wants more efforts to deal with poverty in Latin America, C’bean

Monday, November 02, 2015

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PERU (CMC) – The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on Monday called for redoubling of efforts to defeat poverty and reduce inequality in the current context of economic deceleration in the region.
ECLAC has released its new study titled “Inclusive social development: The next generation of policies for overcoming poverty and reducing inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean”.
The document will be presented officially during the regional conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean that ends here on Wednesday.
“A world free of poverty cannot be achieved without substantially reducing inequality. Social issues are not played out in the social sphere alone, but also in the economy, politics and the environment.
“By the same token, production diversification and structural change are not achieved exclusively through the economy: economic prosperity also hinges on inclusive social development and better living standards,” said ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena.
According to ECLAC, in the last decade Latin America and the Caribbean made notable progress in diverse areas of social development, including a significant reduction in poverty and a moderate decline in inequality as a result of social and labour-market policies implemented in a favourable economic scenario, which enabled objectives related to social inclusion to gain unprecedented space on the public agenda and in development strategies.
But ECLAC said there is still a long path ahead, above all considering the current economic situation, which augurs difficulties in terms of returning to the growth rates recorded in previous years and maintaining public spending levels in some countries.
ECLAC said that poverty reduction has stagnated since 2012 and indigence shows a slight upward trend. In addition, Latin America and the Caribbean continue to be the most unequal region in the world in terms of income distribution.
According to the latest estimates by the regional organisation for 19 Latin American countries, in 2014 there were 167 million people in situations of poverty, of whom 71 million were indigent.
Furthermore, figures from 2013 indicate that only half of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean (49.1 per cent) does not live in situations of indigence, poverty or vulnerability to poverty. Children, women, young people, older adults, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants are the groups that most suffer situations of discrimination, scarcity, deprivation of rights or vulnerability in the region, ECLAC states.
“Of the different aspects of society that produce, exacerbate or mitigate inequalities, the most decisive is the world of work. It is there that most household income in Latin America and the Caribbean is generated, along with the inherent inequalities in its distribution,” ECLAC noted.
According to calculations by ECLAC based on data from 17 Latin American countries from around 2013, wage income represents on average 80 per cent of total household income; 74 per cent of the total income of households in situations of poverty; and 64 per cent in households in situations of indigence.
The Commission also estimates that 18.9 per cent of all employed people earn incomes that are below the poverty line in Latin America and the Caribbean.
These figures show that a high percentage of people in situations of poverty and indigence in the region are part of the labour market; nonetheless, the income they receive from this source is not enough to meet their needs. That is the reason behind the importance of accessing productive, quality employment and decent work.
ECLAC said that in this context, it is crucial that countries redouble their efforts to strengthen and improve social policies and particularly the strategies to reduce poverty and extreme poverty, ensuring their financial sustainability and providing them with the tools that will guarantee their efficiency and effectiveness.

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