BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s urban poverty rate rose to 32.9 percent in the third quarter of 2016 affecting 13 million people due to the precarious labor market and lack of long-term development policies, according to a report presented Thursday by the Argentine Catholic University (UCA).
The study, published by the Argentine Social Debt Observatory of the UCA, establishes that in last year’s third quarter poverty increased 3.9 percent over its level at the close of 2015 to the highest rate in the past seven years.
In addition, 2.7 million people (6.9 percent of the population) were indigent, 600,000 more than at the end of 2015.
“A large part of the Argentine population is excluded. Something more than economic growth is required” and “social programs are not enough to guarantee a platform of (lasting) inclusion,” said Agustin Salvia, who headed the study, during the presentation of the results at the university in Buenos Aires.
He said that since Mauricio Macri became president in December 2015, increases in the costs of public services, “anti-inflationary” policy, low private investment and the lack of recovery in the job market have created an “even more recessive” scenario than in earlier years.
Salvia said that one cannot expect that “mere cycles of economic expansion” will manage to resolve a problem that is “structural” in Argentina, where the poverty and indigence figures have been “stagnant” for a decade, without the implementation of long-term development policies on the national, regional and local levels and measures supporting productivity in small and medium firms.
He said that in addition to the rise in both indexes, the most worrying thing is that – simultaneously – the “gap” between rich and poor has widened and indigent households are farther and farther from getting out of debt, since informal and sporadic jobs have been lost whereby many such households survive.
The report, entitled “Poverty and inequality by income in urban Argentina 2010-2016,” also reveals that 52 percent of low-income homes do not have access to at least one basic right such as food, healthcare, education or dignified housing.
In addition, 32.2 percent of those households “often go hungry,” said Salvia, who emphasized that there are usually children in those homes and they are still the most vulnerable citizens.
The study is based on a sample of 5,700 homes in 17 urban areas with more than 80,000 residents.