Although Latin America and the Caribbean is made up largely of countries that are considered to be middle income, it is the most unequal region in the world. Latin American and Caribbean countries are characterized by the prevalence of historical and deeply rooted socioeconomic disparities and inequalities, the continuance of archaic patterns of wealth distribution, and a very widespread culture of privilege, all of which give rise to structural gaps in numerous areas, according to the document Structural Gaps in Latin America and the Caribbean, a Conceptual-Methodological Perspective (Spanish only), published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
There are very significant disparities in income, patrimony, opportunities and access to public goods and services. Large gaps can also be seen between men and women, rural and urban populations, indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, or, more generally, between those who are born in environments that offer opportunities to access quality employment and well-being, and those who are caught in the trap of structural poverty.
Inequality represents an important hindrance to the economic growth of Latin American and Caribbean countries and also to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This leads to bottlenecks that hamper and pose a challenge to sustained, inclusive and sustainable long-term development, according to the study, which presents a structural gaps approach for the region, fostering their comprehension in relation to their ties to the concepts of poverty, inequality and economic development. Based on the contributions of the theory of new rurality and new analytical approaches to rural matters, a set of empirical evidence of these gaps in the region is presented, with special emphasis on territorial differences.
This study is part of a joint project between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and ECLAC entitled “New Narratives for Rural Transformation in Latin America and the Caribbean,” which aims to analyze and bring into the debate changes in the rural space and their implications in terms of public policy and opportunities for new economic growth and development paradigms. The project seeks to identify opportunities for designing and implementing public policies that would close territorial structural gaps, taking into account recent, deep transformations in rural spaces.
The document is a starting point for the production of national diagnoses as well as analyses of specific gaps in selected countries (the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico and Panama). The objective is to measure, characterize and map out structural gaps in the region, with a view to fully comprehending the systemic relations that may exist between them and, based on that, designing public policy strategies for closing them.