Latin America remains a socio-economically divided place, both within and among countries, writes Christopher Sabatini, AQ Editor-in-Chief and AS/COA Senior Director of Policy, in a Miami Herald op-ed published today.
Inequality Still Haunts Latin America
To talk of Latin America as if it were a meaningful unit has always been forced, if not artificial. But now, as a recently released social inclusion index reveals, the region is becoming even more divided between countries — while remaining so within many.
Measuring the performance of 11 countries in the hemisphere by race/ethnicity and gender in access to public and private goods as well by political and civil rights, Americas Quarterly’s social inclusion index reveals huge differences between countries in the region. At the top, with a score of 71.9, stands Chile, with Uruguay just behind at 71.2. Contrast that with the lowest performers, Guatemala at 7.5 and Nicaragua at 10.3. Brazil is third, but a distant third.
Looking closely you realize that contrasts are stark, not just in the tremendous gaps between the countries, but within them, explaining their wildly divergent scores. For all the genuine gains of a rising middle class in the region, some countries and populations are clearly being left behind. To give a few examples, in Guatemala while 58 percent of school-aged children of European descent are enrolled in school, only 35 percent of those of indigenous or African descent are. In Bolivia those same numbers are 86 percent and 72 percent.
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