32.1% of the total population of the region, which is equivalent to 201 million people, will live in poverty by the end of this year, of which 82 million (13.1%) will be in extreme poverty, reported Thursday the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Cepal).
“The cascade of external shocks, the slowdown in economic growth, the weak recovery of employment and rising inflation deepen and prolong the social crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said the executive secretary of the institution, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs.
After a strong growth in poverty and a slight increase in income inequality in 2020, as a result of the pandemic, 2021 reported a reduction in the rates of extreme poverty and poverty and growth in the middle income strata, which was not enough to completely reverse the negative effects of the health crisis, explains the Social Panorama of Latin America and the Caribbean 2022 report.
“It has not been possible to reverse the impacts of the pandemic in terms of poverty and extreme poverty and the countries face a silent crisis in education that affects the future of the new generations,” added Salazar-Xirinachs.
The figures imply that an additional 15 million people will be in poverty compared to the pre-pandemic situation and that the number of people in extreme poverty will be 12 million higher than that registered in 2019.
“The projected levels of extreme poverty in 2022 represent a setback of a quarter of a century for the region,” underlines the regional organization of the United Nations.
The incidence of poverty is higher in some groups of the population: more than 45% of the child and adolescent population lives in poverty and the rate in women between 20 and 59 years of age is higher than in men in all countries region of. Similarly, poverty is considerably higher in the indigenous or Afro-descendant population, reveals the document.
In 2021, income inequality (measured by the Gini index) decreased slightly compared to 2020 in Latin America, standing at 0.458, at levels similar to those of 2019.
Unemployment projected for 2022 represents a setback of 22 years, and especially affects women, for whom unemployment rises from 9.5% in 2019 to 11.6% in 2022.
Latin America, the region most affected by the pandemic, grew 6.9% in 2021 as a rebound after the 6.8% collapse registered in 2020, the biggest recession in 120 years.
For 2022, ECLAC projects a growth of 3.2%, although it foresees a slowdown in 2023 of 1.4%.
Latin America and the Caribbean suffered the longest educational blackout at the international level (on average 70 weeks of closure of establishments compared to 41 weeks in the rest of the world), which exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in terms of access, inclusion and quality, points out the report, which dedicates a specific chapter to education.
In this period, one of the main limitations for educational continuity were inequalities in access to connectivity, equipment, and digital skills.
If ECLAC does not act now, it warns of the “risk of permanent scarring in the educational and employment trajectories of the younger generations.”
According to the agency, in Latin America the percentage of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 who neither study nor work for pay increased from 22.3% in 2019 to 28.7% in 2020, especially affecting young women.
Despite the advances in recent decades in educational access and inclusion from early childhood to higher education, the countries of the region dragged serious debts in equality and quality of education prior to the crisis caused by the pandemic, which already made it difficult achieve the goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030.