Social Panorama of Latin America 2004

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The 2004 edition of the Social Panorama of Latin America analyses the major demographic changes that have occurred in the region over the past few decades, examines the socioeconomic status of Latin American youth, looks at institutional and programmatic guidelines for youth policies and describes how household structures and family roles have changed. As in past years, recent trends in poverty and income distribution in the Latin American countries are also reviewed.




The distinctive feature of youth is that it is a phase in which society grants individuals a "moratorium on roles"; that is, a temporary suspension of obligations that gives young people time to prepare themselves to deal with new situations. In other words, young people are neither children nor adults, and their main function is to prepare themselves to form their own households and enter labour markets that make ever–increasing demands in terms of knowledge and skills. The transition from childhood to maturity therefore includes a period of major biological, psychological, social and cultural changes. The process begins when individuals acquire the capacity to reproduce the human species, and ends when they acquire the capacity to reproduce society (Brito, 1997, p. 29).


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