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Latin American Poverty Rises

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Knowledge@Wharton

Although new signs of recovery are encouraging international investment to resume, there is no doubt that the global economic crisis has left a trail of negative side effects in Latin America. One of the most serious is increased poverty in the region. As the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) -- one of five regional organizations run by the United Nations to promote economic development -- sees it, during the economic boom times between 2003 and 2008, poverty rates in the region fell 10 percentage points, from 44 to 34 percent of the population. That's changing, however. The Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos (OEI) expects the region's GDP to contract 1.7 percent this year, after growing 3 percent last year, while unemployment will also rise. According to ECLAC, all of this will have a negative impact on poverty levels across the region, where there are already more than 180 million poor people, and more than 70 million who qualify as “extremely poor” -- that is, people who cannot meet basic needs for survival, such as food, water, clothing, shelter and sanitation.

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