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UN: Latin American poverty rate ebbs to lowest in three decades

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

SANTIAGO—Growing job income helped lift one million people out of poverty this year in Latin America and the Caribbean, helping reduce the region’s poverty rate to the lowest in three decades, the UN’s economic body for the region said in report yesterday.


Around 167 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean, or roughly 28.8 percent of the total population, lived in poverty this year, a sharp drop from a decade ago, according to Santiago-based Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.


“Poverty reduction was most related to increases in job-related income for poor households,” ECLAC said in its report. “Public and private transfers and other income helped, but less significantly, in reducing poverty.” The export-dependent region’s booming economic growth has helped cut poverty rates over the past decade.



But the UN body recently estimated the region’s economic growth would moderate to 3.2 per cent this year from 4.3 per cent in 2011 and about six per cent in 2010.


The UN body yesterday warned that the pace of poverty’s fall was easing in the region, chiefly due to low-quality employment and a reduced focus on social spending. The rate dropped 0.6 percentage points in 2012 from 2011, slowing its pace from a 1.6 percentage point fall in 2011 from 2010.


A decade ago, around 225 million people were considered poor, or 43.9 per cent of the total population at the time, according to the report. The report provided no specific thresholds for poverty and extreme poverty in Latin America. But it added that in different Latin American countries, people living in poverty received substantially less than the median income.


Paraguay, the Dominican Republic and Colombia have some of the highest poverty rates in the region, while Argentina, Uruguay and Chile have the lowest, the report added. (Reuters)