Regional Human Development Report for Latin America and the Caribbean 2010

15 Nov 2010

Acting on the future: breaking the intergenerational transmission of inequality

Inequality stands in the way of human development in Latin America

 and the Caribbean, but it can be reduced

Latin America and the Caribbean is the most unequal region in the world. Ten of the 15 countries with the highest levels of inequality are in the region. This inequality is persistent, self-perpetuating in areas where social mobility is low and it poses an obstacle to progress in human development. According to the first ever Human Development Report for Latin America and the Caribbean “Acting On The Future: Breaking The Intergenerational Cycle Of Inequality”, published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), there is a need for specific, comprehensive and effective public policies to reduce inequality.

The report finds that it is possible to reduce inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. It proposes the design and implementation of public policies on three fronts to lift the region out of the inequality trap. These policies must have an impact on people (“reach”), address the set of constraints that perpetuate poverty and inequality (“breadth”) and empower people to feel they are in charge of their development destinies (“ownership”).

According to the report, factors at household level and within the political system serve to perpetuate inequality. Achieving a clearer understanding of these factors will make it possible to design policies that successfully combat poverty and achieve meaningful reductions in inequality in the region.

Lowering inequality helps to create connected societies in which economic growth and social cohesion are strengthened. Conversely, inequality perpetuates itself, as much for economic reasons as for reasons of political economy, the report concludes.

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