MILESTONES: LATIN AMERICA
By Antonio Guerrero
Looking up: Poverty is declining in Latin America
Latin America’s robust recovery from the global financial crisis is having an impact even on the poorest people in the region, according to a new report from the United Nations’ Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac). The report says the numbers living in poverty or extreme poverty in the region are now near pre-global-economic-crisis levels and contends that Latin America’s strong economic growth has sparked the improvement.
Eclac says 32.1% of Latin Americans were living in poverty last year—down from 33.1% in 2009—with 12.9% in extreme poverty. The latter is defined as the percentage of people living on less than one dollar per day. The 2010 figures show the region has now resumed a downward trend that began in 2003 but was interrupted by a 0.1% rise in 2009. The economic development in many of the region’s markets is helping drive middle-class growth, while accompanying falls in unemployment and increasingly significant public-funded support have also contributed to declining poverty rates. According to Eclac, Latin America’s economy is expected to post 6% growth over the past year—a sharp reversal from the crisis-induced 1.9% decline in 2009. Eclac predicts the region’s economy will grow by a more modest 4.2% in 2011.