Failure to Break Cycles Of Poverty

A U.N. Development Program report on Latin America and the Caribbean finds that despite economic growth during much of the past decade, distribution of per capita income in Latin America is nearly as inequitable now as it was 20 years ago. In fact, Latin America is the most unequal distributor of income in the world, with an inequality index 18 percent higher than that of sub-Saharan Africa. Only 9.3 percent of Panama’s nonindigenous population is poor, but more than half of indigenous Panamanians and those of African descent live in poverty. Such disparities are similarly high in countries like Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala, Paraguay, Brazil and Peru. Even more insidiously, poverty passes from generation to generation in the same households partly because a lack of education limits future employment opportunities. If countries really want to break the cycle of poverty, experts say, they must change their policies to address these internal inequalities.

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