Latin America is entering the twenty-first century with a well-documented social lag, the United Nations economic commission for the region reports.
According to a study carried out by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the region has resumed the path of economic growth lost during the 1990s, progress has not been fast enough to improve living standards. Poverty fell from 41 per cent in 1990 to 36 per cent in 1997, but the crisis in 1998-1999 raised the percentage of poor people in some countries. The decade ended with almost 38 per cent of households under the poverty line, 16 per cent of them indigent.
To achieve more equitable societies, the study's authors, Director of ECLAC's Social Development Division Rolando Franco and Pedro Sainz, the former Director of the Statistics and Economic Projection Division, write that the region's countries will have to achieve better economic performance, reformulation of the social agenda, and more efficient public policies. Emerging social issues in the region include integration into consumer society, social mobility, the need for more egalitarian societies and the importance of democracy and its quality, the study concludes.