A new Database on Social Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean is available to all users interested in discovering the volume of resources spent on policies related to six functions: social protection; education; health; housing and community services; recreation, culture and religion; and environmental protection.
The tool was developed by the Social Development Division of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) as a result of the accords reached during the first meeting of the Regional Conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which took place in Lima, Peru in November 2015.
Starting at that time, ECLAC intensified its work with countries to improve the measurement of social spending: in diverse regional workshop-seminars, participants agreed to utilize the Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG), which is the international standard, and, in methodological terms, they expanded their reporting from four sectors of social spending to the six functions previously mentioned.
Thanks to its simple and friendly design, the database offers users access to official information from 22 countries in the region, corresponding to the 2000-2015 period. These countries are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The graphics presented on the site draw from the statistical information stored on ECLAC’s Statistics and Indicators portal, CEPALSTAT: http://estadisticas.cepal.org/cepalstat/WEB_CEPALSTAT/Portada.asp?idioma=i.
The Social Panorama of Latin America 2016 annual report, presented in late May by ECLAC, dedicates a chapter to the evolution of social spending in the region, which reached its historic peak in 2015: 10.5% of GDP for the central government and 14.5% of GDP for the public sector (as a simple regional average). Social protection (5%), education (4.6%) and health (3.4%) continue to be the functions of greatest importance in relation to GDP.
Nonetheless, social spending budgets in 2016-2017 show contractions in the majority of countries, prompting ECLAC to call for safeguarding the financing of social policies.
As part of the process to constantly update the database, the intention is to expand the information available on Caribbean countries and increase institutional coverage, disaggregate the information on each function, and broaden the sources of complementary information (national accounts and administrative records). These developments will be crucial for determining if more specific analyses of social policies can be achieved to improve decision-making.