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Region’s middle class grows by 50 per cent
NEW YORK—The middle class in Latin America and the Caribbean region grew by 50 per cent over the past decade, according to a World Bank report released Tuesday. Higher levels of education, smaller families and more women and urban dwellers entering the work force were among factors contributing to the increase.
The middle class in the region historically plagued by wealth inequality grew to 152 million people in 2009, up from 103 million in 2003, according to the report. The middle class now accounts for roughly 30 per cent of the population, roughly the same proportion of the population that lives below the poverty line.
“The recent experience of Latin America and the Caribbean shows the world that policies balancing economic growth while still expanding opportunities for the most vulnerable can spread prosperity to millions of people,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.
The World Bank attributed the growth of the middle class in the region in the last ten years to changes in government policies that emphasised the delivery of social programs alongside economic stability. The end result: The middle class grew by a half to include 30 per cent of the regions population in 2009.
Among the highest achievers were Brazil, which comprised about 40 per cent of the region’s middle class growth; Colombia, where 54 per cent of people improved their economic status between 1992 and 2008; and Mexico, which had 17 per cent of its population join the middle class between 2000 and 2010.
Today, the middle class and the poor in Latin America account for roughly the same share of the population, according to the report. The report found that some of the key factors favoring the upward mobility in Latin America were higher levels of education among workers; higher employment in the formal sector; more people living in urban areas; more women in the labour force; and smaller families.
The report, however, found that social mobility remains limited in the region and the economic and social background of parents still played a role in determining the economic future of their children. The report defined middle class as anyone making between US$10 and $50 per day (from TT$64 to TT$320 a day), which was the level of income that provides an increased resilience to unexpected events and reflects a lower probability of falling back into poverty.
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