In Latin America 20 percent of the people have 83 percent of the wealth

21/01/2020

The non-governmental organization Oxfam International revealed today that in Latin America and the Caribbean, 20 percent of the population concentrates 83 percent of the wealth, with 104 billion people to date compared to 27 in 2000.

5 disturbing data on poverty and inequality in Latin America. Photo: Notimex
5 disturbing data on poverty and inequality in Latin America. Photo: Notimex

Added to this is the fact that figures for the year just ended 2019, which state that 66 million people, 10.7 percent of the Latin American and Caribbean population, lived in extreme poverty, the NGO said, with support from data from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

These data are included in the updated information on the relationship between billionaires and the rest of society worldwide, where 2.153 billion people have more wealth than 4.6 billion people.

Inequality in the world has reached "an outrageous level", he said in his report "Time for Care", released Monday, one day before the opening of the World Economic Forum, held every year in the Alpine city of Davos, Switzerland.

In the last decade, the number of billionaires has doubled, so policies against inequality are needed although very few governments have committed to adopting them, said Amitabh Behar, Oxfam's executive director.

The study charges that the current model is sexist and deepens the crisis of inequality, as it allows the elite to accumulate vast fortunes especially at the expense of women and girls in poverty.

It said that the female population, including minors, who are dedicated to caring for people spend 12.5 billion hours a day on this work, which translated into dollars represents 10.8 billion dollars a year, triple the amount of the technology industry.

Increasing the wealth tax for the highest income population by half a percentage point over the next decade would raise enough funds to create 117 million care jobs in areas such as education, health, children and the elderly.

Other data revealed by Oxfam's work indicate that in Latin America and the Caribbean 49 percent of women with jobs earn less than the minimum monthly wage in their country.

It adds that taxes on the richest individuals and companies are extremely low, so they do not generate enough income to alleviate care work.

"Governments have generated this crisis of inequality and must now take action to address it," the study stresses, which also emphasizes the need to "build a more humane economy that works for all people and not just for the lucky few.

5 disturbing data on poverty and inequality in Latin America

There's nothing strange about citizens burning on the most unequal continent on the planet. All the more so when it is clear that living conditions have deteriorated significantly in the last six years. This has been pointed out by various organizations, headed by ECLAC, which has published disturbing reports in recent weeks.

There is a structural factor that has influenced this situation. While between 2002 and 2013 the so-called "raw materials boom" occurred, from 2014 everything changed and the economy began to grow at a much slower rate.

While the bonanza lasted, a sector of Latin Americans managed to get out of poverty. At the same time, the middle class base widened and everything seemed to be going smoothly. Now, poverty has been growing steadily and the newly formed middle class struggles not to descend on the social scale.

The lowest growth in the last 70 years

Almost a century had passed without economic growth being so low. ECLAC indicated that the economic slowdown has been generalized in the continent. They pointed out that 18 of the 20 Latin American countries present such deceleration in 2019. Overall, the region will only grow by 0.1% on average.

The countries with the greatest setbacks are Venezuela, with a contraction of -25.5%; Nicaragua, with -5.3%; Argentina, with -3.0%; and Haiti, with -0.7%. In its report, ECLAC states that "it is essential to reactivate economic activity through greater public spending on investment and social policies".

Unemployment Rate Rises on the Continent

On average, unemployment grew between 8 % and 8.2 % in the countries of the region. Unemployment decreased in two countries, remained stable in one and increased in 13. It is believed that during 2019 the number of unemployed increased by one million. This means that there are currently about 25.2 million Latin Americans seeking employment.

The countries that registered the highest increase in the unemployment rate were Costa Rica and Argentina. In turn, the number of people employed only increased in Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas. Brazil showed a slight upturn in the second half of 2019.

Informality increased

As has been the case in recent years, self-employment grew at a higher rate than wage employment. In the last year, the former increased by 3%, while the latter only increased by 1.5%. Over the last five years self-employment increased by 18.5%, while salaried employment increased by only 5.6%.

Labour informality also grew by an average of 0.4%. The country where this phenomenon increased the most was Costa Rica, where the increase was very pronounced. To a lesser extent, informality also increased in Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay.

One in 10 Latin Americans lives in extreme poverty

This is one of the most disturbing figures. It is estimated that 10.2% of Latin Americans live in extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is considered to exist when a person, even if he or she were to spend all his or her income on the purchase of food, would not be able to acquire the necessary nutrients to live a healthy life.

While in 2002 there were 57 million absolute poor, it is estimated that in 2019 there may be between 64 and 65 million extreme poor in the region. The situation in Venezuela and Brazil, in particular, have pushed this remarkable increase.

40% of workers are paid less than the legal minimum wage

The supply of employment remains insufficient throughout the region, leading to the phenomenon of informality or underemployment already mentioned. One of the effects of this situation is low income and lack of access to social protection mechanisms such as pensions.

It is estimated that 40% of Latin Americans earn less than the legal minimum wage in each of their countries. This situation particularly affects young people, women and the elderly.

It is also believed that one in five workers receives an income below the poverty line in each country. An indeterminate number of them work longer hours than legally established. Estimates show that 35% of farmworkers earn incomes that barely allow them to reach the poverty line.

By Mexicanist