Consistently with the emphasis that the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has placed on equality since 2010, and in keeping with the purpose of leaving no one behind enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, this document examines the mechanisms by which inequality erodes dynamic inefficacy in the Latin American and Caribbean economies. It analyses and measures the productivity and income effects of unequal access to health and education, as well as the consequences of inequality of opportunities arising from gender-, race- or ethnicity-based discrimination. It also examines how these inequalities play out at the level of territory, infrastructure and urban dynamics, where their costs not only weigh on productivity, but also worsen energy inefficiencies and environmental degradation, thereby compromising the development possibilities of present and future generations. Inequality imposes constraints on innovation and creativity that are all the heavier because they are embedded within the culture of agents, which creates a culture of privilege in which many public goods and rights are not universal, but denied to much of the population. This weakens trust in social interactions and in democratic institutions.
Here, ECLAC proposes strategic guidelines for increasing the dynamic efficiency of the Latin American and Caribbean economies on the basis of equality. Capacity-building and the construction of welfare States are at the heart of a new development paradigm that puts the technological revolution at the service of low-carbon, technology-intensive growth. In this regard, and in view of the rapid transformations and mounting uncertainties in the global economy, the region urgently needs stronger public and private investment revolving around an environmental big push in order to diversify its production structure and even out its structural disparities.