Social Panorama of Latin America 2014

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Income distribution, polarization and perceptions

One of Latin America’s distinguishing features has been the uneven distribution of resources and exercise of rights. While the region is far from being the world’s poorest, it stands out as the most unequal. This is strangling current well-being and the future development of its societies and economies. In a series of publications referred to as the ‘trilogy of equality’ (2010, 2012 and 2014), ECLAC has outlined this challenge and argued that overcoming it is a prerequisite for protecting recent gains and blazing a new trail towards a virtuous circle of growth and inclusion. This chapter of Social Panorama tracks recent trends in income inequality, focusing on the slowing of progress in this area in recent years. It examines the degree of polarization of Latin American societies, in search of a proxy for understanding the recent manifestations of collective unrest in some of the countries in the region.

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