In-depth

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Women of Peru working in the Inclusive Creative Industries program.

Latin America is a Middle-Income region: 33 out of its 34 member states belong to that category.  Haiti is the only low income country, and Belize, Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua and Paraguay are classified as lower middle-income countries.

Economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean during the 2000-2010 period (the highest of the last four decades), along with active social policy brought almost a third of the total population in the region into the middle class status (with 70 percent of the new middle-classers in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina).

This means that the size of this group (29 percent) is very close to the size of the population in poverty (31 percent) for the first time since comparable information became available. In spite of these promising facts, about 216 million Latin Americans (38 percent of the total population) are still vulnerable to fall into (or to go back into) living in poverty, which is why one of the main future challenges in the region is the construction of a universal social protection floor to protect households from a wide variety of risks of impoverishment.

In terms of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the region shows large heterogeneity in undernutrition estimates, with 17 countries having reached the target early or being expected to do so by 2015, while nearly an equal share of countries are reporting stagnant, and even deteriorating progress. At the regional level, the availability of food for human consumption exceeded the requirements of its population by over 40 percent, but around 45 million people remained with insufficient access in 2006. Central America and the Caribbean face greater vulnerability due to natural disasters and subsequent food shocks. Sub-national disparities in child undernutrition remain a challenge, thereby limiting the region’s ability to tackle poverty reduction in the long-term. For instance, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) notes how the children of illiterate women of indigenous or afro-descendant origin living in Central America or Andean countries are the population group most at risk of suffering from undernutrition. The Caribbean sub-region shows among the largest proportion of maternal deaths attributed to HIV, second only to Sub-Saharan Africa.  While recent progress has been achieved in curbing early childbearing, at 80 births per 1,000 adolescent women the Latin American rate remains the second highest among the developing regions.

 

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Photo: UNDP Peru

 

UNDP promotes inclusive and sustainable human development and works to reduce poverty and inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean—in all its dimensions. We focus our efforts on making growth and trade benefit everyone in the region.

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