UNDP: Millions of Latin Americans risk sliding back into poverty; new public policies crucial to prevent setbacks

Sep 26, 2016

New metrics beyond per capita income, economic growth rates and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are needed to measure development. Photo: UNDP

Brussels, September 26, 2016 - “The main threat to progress in Latin America and the Caribbean is the relapse of millions of families back into poverty. The economic slowdown is part of the story, but not the only cause of such a setback”, said United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and Caribbean, Jessica Faieta, at the presentation of UNDP’s Human Development Report (HDR) for Latin America and the Caribbean, organized by the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development.

The report titled Multidimensional Progress: Well-being beyond income highlights key policy recommendations aimed to advance and prevent reversals in the social, economic and environmental fronts. In it, UNDP expresses particular concern over the 25 to 30 million people in the region—more than a third of those who left poverty since 2003 — who risk falling back into poverty. Many are youth and women, with precarious employment in the service sector. They are part of a larger group of over 220 million people (38% of the population, or almost two in every five in the region) who are vulnerable: officially they are not poor (living on less than US$4/day) but have been unable to rise to the middle class (living on more than $10/day).

According to the Report, the factors that pushed people out of poverty are different from those that prevent them from falling back. In the past decade, labour markets and education were the biggest engines behind exiting poverty. However, the report argues that it is essential that a new generation of public policies strengthen the four factors that prevent setbacks: social protection, care systems (particularly for children and older persons), physical and financial assets (such as owning a car, a home, savings or bank accounts that act as ‘cushions’ when crisis hit), and labour skills. “These four key elements comprise what the regional HDR brands as a ‘resilience basket’, enabling people to absorb shocks and prevent setbacks. This is especially important during economic slowdowns”, said Jessica Faieta.

The HDR calls on Latin Americans to rethink the region’s progress along multidimensional lines, inspired by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. New metrics beyond per capita income, economic growth rates and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are needed to measure development. Nothing that reduces the rights of people and communities or threatens environmental sustainability can be considered progress, the report highlights.

#MoreThanIncome

Resources - Report website morethanincome.org | Download our APP on Google Playstore and Apple/ iTunes | Animation with key report messages | Video: Exclusions beyond income | Photos: flickr.com/undplac | B-roll / video editing: contact Andrew.hein@undp.org

About the Regional HDR: This third Human Development Report for Latin America and the Caribbean is an editorially independent publication commissioned by UNDP. This report was prepared with financial support from the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID, in Spanish). Over 20 regional authorities take part in the report’s Advisory Board including ministers, senators and academics.

Contact information

In Brussels: Ludmila Tiganu, Communications Specialist, ludmila.tiganu@undp.org

In New York: Marcela Barrientos, Communications Specialist, Marcela.barrientos@undp.org

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