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"The region should bet on a long-term social protection system"

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2 February 2010|Press Release

The Executive Secretary of ECLAC presented the report "Social Panorama of Latin America and the Caribbean 2009" at the headquarters of the Ibero-American General Secretariat.

(Madrid, 27 January 2010)  "If the causes behind the reproduction of inequality are not attacked, the face of poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean will be increasingly of women and children. This makes it urgent to work as a region on a new, long-term social protection system," warned ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena during the presentation of the report Social Panorama of Latin America 2009 last night in Madrid.

The report, one of ECLAC's flagship publications released last November in Santiago, was presented in Madrid at the headquarters of the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB).

Virgilio Zapatero, Chancellor of the University of Alcalá, and José Luis Machinea, Director of the Raúl Prebisch Course at that university and former Executive Secretary of ECLAC, participated in the event.

According to the report, women are 1.15 times more vulnerable to poverty than men in the region. In at least 13 countries, this trend worsened between 2002 and 2008.

Poverty among children under 15 is 1.7 times higher than among adults, and this gap has enlarged in practically the entire region over the past six years, says the report.

The study Social Panorama of Latin America 2009 "shows that we have progressed in lowering inequality in income distribution in the region, so much so that between 2002 and 2008, inequality diminished in seven of the 18 countries under study, while it rose in only three," said Bárcena.

However, "we haven't undone the knots that reproduce inequality: increasing poverty among children, the stratified participation of women in the labour market and the intergenerational transmission of inequality continue to be enemies of welfare and social cohesion among the Latin American population," she stated.

The report notes that the number of people living under the poverty line rose from 180 million to 189 million in 2009 (34.1% of the population).

This is equivalent to almost a fourth of the population that had already overcome poverty between 2002 and 2008 (41 million people in total) due to greater economic growth, the expansion of social spending, the demographic bonus and better distribution.

"It is urgent that we implement long-term policies geared at children and youths, who are the future engines of production in society, and facilitate the participation of women in the labour market to detain the circle of poverty", said Bárcena.

"In this task, the role of the State and civil society are fundamental," she concluded.


For more information, contact ECLAC's Information Services. Email:; telephones: (56-2) 210-2149.