What’s happening to inequality in Latin America?

Keyword: 
Inequality
Topic: 
Poverty - Inequality - Aid Effectiveness

The team behind the World Bank’s LAC Equity Lab is starting this new blog series to showcase our favorite charts and visuals that help tell the story of recent developments in poverty and equity in Latin America and the Caribbean. We welcome your comments and ideas, and invite you to explore our LAC Equity Lab and World Bank Poverty websites to learn more.

In this first installment, we are tackling a pressing issue for the region – income growth and its implications on inequality.

Income growth in Latin America has stopped being pro-poor during the slowdown 

Source: SEDLAC (World Bank and CEDLAS). Note: growth incidence curves (GIC) show the annualized growth rate of income for every percentile of the income distribution and are calculated using pooled harmonized data from 17 countries. In order to analyze the same set of countries every year, interpolation was applied when country data were not available for a given year.

We know that the economic slowdown affected every region of the world. And Latin America was no exception. But what this chart shows is how this has translated into slower income growth since 2010 for poorer Latin Americans. Even though poorer families are still seeing their income growing, it is not growing as fast as it used to. Between 2003 and 2008, the income growth of the poorest was more than twice that of the richest. But from 2010 to 2013, the income growth across all income levels has been fairly steady at about four percent, an almost 50 percent drop for the poorest.

So what does this mean? This flat growth rate across all income levels could mean that the gains that the region achieved in reducing inequality could be put on hold. In a recent report, we show that income inequality has stagnated after the economic slowdown. During the first part of the 2000s, buoyed by higher income growth for the poorest, inequality levels came down considerably. However, since the start of the economic slowdown, the poor are no longer closing the income gap.


This post first appeared on The World Bank’s Open Data Blog and than, was published by World Economic Forum, on November 19, 2015.

Share this