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Extreme poverty in Latin America rises to 13.8% in 2021 despite social aid

Extreme poverty in Latin America grew again last year to reach 86 million people, which implies a setback of 27 years, despite social aid to face the pandemic, revealed this Thursday the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

The UN agency estimated that the extreme poverty rate increased from 13.1% in 2020 to 13.8% —five million more people—, while the poverty rate decreased from 33% to 32.1%, and affected 201 million Latin Americans.

“Despite the economic recovery experienced in 2021, the levels of poverty and extreme poverty have remained above those registered in 2019, reflecting the continuation of the social crisis,” the report pointed out. Social Panorama of Latin America, presented by ECLAC, based in Santiago de Chile.

Latin America was one of the most affected regions in health and economic terms by COVID-19, which caused a 6.8% contraction in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, the biggest recession in 120 years.


Social aid for vulnerable sectors —which exceeded 45.2 billion dollars last year—, added to the progress of vaccination processes, allowed a “slow recovery of the main employment indicators” and a rise in GDP of 6.2%. in 2021, according to the institution.

Balance by countries

The largest rises in both indices took place in Argentina, Colombia and Peru, where they reached or exceeded seven percentage points.

In Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Paraguay it increased between 3 and 5 points, and in Bolivia, Mexico and the Dominican Republic it grew by less than two percentage points.

In El Salvador, the poverty rate practically did not change —although extreme poverty did by two percentage points— and the only country that experienced a decrease in both indices was Brazil, with a drop of 1.8% and 0. 7%, respectively.

A crucial factor for recovery will be the advance of vaccination, which in 2021 reached 59.4% of the population of Latin America (389.4 million people) with two doses.

“Although the cases of Chile, Cuba, Uruguay, Argentina and Ecuador stand out, where 70% of the population has already been vaccinated with the complete scheme, more than half of the countries do not reach 50%,” lamented the institution. .

The coronavirus pandemic, which has left 55.7 million cases and nearly 1.5 million deaths in two years in the region, is experiencing an escalation due to the omicron variant in several countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Chile.

Source: EFE

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