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 family is not an institution that exists in isolation. Households and family units are linked to the labour market and the structure of safety nets. It follows that phenomena such as fertility and divorce rates and ageing processes are part of broader social, economic and cultural processes and are therefore also subject to public policy. As the fundamental group unit of society, the family cannot be dissociated from the cultural values and political processes that characterize each time or period in history (Jelin, 2004).


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