Table Of Content
- About the Authors
- About the Book
- This eBook can be cited
- Part I
- Introduction: Lukasz Czarnecki
- Part II: The social inequality and poverty after the 2008 crisis
- The case of Ecuador: Mayra Sáenz
- Poverty and inequality
- How has Ecuador emerged from crisis?
- The case of Brazil: Erik Balleza
- Income inequality
- Poverty reduction
- The determinants that have contributed to the reduction in the levels of inequality and poverty
- Social policy
- Access to education
- The effects of the current international financial and economic crisis
- Final comments
- The case of Mexico: Lukasz Czarnecki
- The context
- The 2008 crisis: the economic implications
- The 2008 crisis: social implications
- Part III
- Final conclusion: Lukasz Czarnecki
Latin America is known as the world’s most unequal region. And for most countries of the region, this reputation is well earned: inequality is one of their most durable characteristics, a true structure in the sense that Fernand Braudel gives to this term. Decades and centuries go by, governments come and go, revolutions and military dictatorships succeed one another, economic booms and busts produce alternating spells of hope and dismay—but the basic, unequal, architecture of Latin American societies stubbornly remains, shaping the expectations, actions and destinies of millions of people.
One massive manifestation of this inequality is poverty. Other regions of the world may have worse levels of poverty, but in most of those cases this is due to the fact that society in general is scarcely developed and absolute deprivation is large. What is truly peculiar to Latin America is the combination of abundance and scarcity, of prosperity and decadence. The political, cultural, even aesthetical consequences of this fact are far-reaching and variegated.
But it is important not to reduce the issue to its economic manifestations, defining it as a mere matter of income distribution. Precisely because this inclination is so strong, it is crucial to emphasize that Latin America’s inequality is a social phenomenon in the broadest sense of the term—it is how wealth, power, status, knowledge and other basic social goods are distributed to create an enduring social structure. Thus, strictly speaking, extreme inequality is not a distortion or corruption of Latin American societies: it is the way these societies are constituted.
Changes that took place in the last decades accentuated or mitigated this inequality. By liberating economic power from many political restrictions, the neoliberal reforms of the 1980s-1990s certainly aggravated it. The progressive governments of the early 2000s took pains to alleviate it, in some countries with notable success. The reinsertion of the region into the world economy—with many countries taking back their old roles as exporter of primary products—certainly helped these political efforts by providing extra resources that could be distributed without affecting the interests of the elites.
But if these recent changes altered the intensity of Latin America’s inequality, they did not transform its basic shape. The origins of this basic shape have to be searched for in the distant past: in the Iberian conquest, in the original design of colonial societies, in the way the newly independent nations inserted themselves into the global social system in the early nineteenth century.
But if inequality is a historical fact, it is also a living one—a continuous struggle to maintain or transform the structure of society. Inequality is repro ← 7 | 8 → duced in the day-to-day working of institutions and the daily interactions of human beings. Thus, if one wants to understand it, it is not enough to point to its historical roots. It is necessary to analyze why and how it is created and recreated every day, how the elites are able to overcome the continuous challenges to their power and the frequent changes in the international environment.
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- Publication date
- 2014 (March)
- Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 73 pp., 2 b/w fig., 17 tables, 24 graphs