Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Almost Half of Latin American and Caribbean Children in Poverty



Nearly 81 million people under age 18 in Latin America and the Caribbean are affected by moderate to severe deprivation, a new study has found. Pobreza Infantil en América Latina y el Caribe (Child Poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean), released yesterday by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), looks at the multiple dimensions of child poverty and proposes public policy recommendations to confront the key causes of such poverty.

The study—carried out from 2008 to 2009—based its framework on the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted in 1989. It took into account such factors as nutrition, access to drinking water and sanitation services, school attendance, and availability of information and communication media, considering deprivation from any one of these as a contributing factor to poverty and social exclusion. It also measured household incomes and assessed a household’s capacity to provide for children’s basic needs. The report found that child poverty is unevenly distributed across the region, with over two-thirds of the children in Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru living in poverty and less than one-fourth of those in Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay doing so.

The report’s authors urge governments to invest in children by promoting their rights, ensuring their access to food, water and quality services, and developing strong systems for social protection. ECLAC executive secretary Alicia Bárcena and UNICEF regional director Bernt Aasen also call for governments to integrate social, employment and macroeconomic policy to combat the cycle of poverty.

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