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Social Panorama of Latin America 2005

image of Social Panorama of Latin America 2005

The 2005 edition of the Social Panorama of Latin America analyses recent poverty trends and the increase in migrant remittances, together with their impact on the well-being of the region's population. The analysis seeks to explore the question as to whether the demographic transition taking place in the Latin American countries over the past 15 years has helped to narrow the long-standing gaps between different socio-economic groups' and areas' mortality and birth rates. Attention is also drawn to the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Caribbean countries and to the reversal of its skewed gender distribution, which has had a devastating impact on households and the community at large. Finally, this edition looks at major changes in the health sector.

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Introduction

Over the last 15 years, the progress of the demographic transition might, it would be expected, have helped to narrow the longstanding mortality and fertility gaps among socio–economic groups and regions in the Latin American and Caribbean countries. Findings obtained from the processing of microdata from the 1990 and 2000 census rounds show diverse trends. In most of the countries, infant mortality dropped more sharply in lower socio–economic groups (especially in urban areas), thus reducing this severe manifestation of social inequality, although wide disparities remain visible owing to the large number of preventable premature deaths among the most disadvantaged groups. Fertility differences decreased in only a minority of the countries examined, however. What is more, in almost all the countries adolescent fertility increased at the low and mid–range socio–economic levels, which accounts for the failure of early fertility to decline as well as the notable increase in the social inequality of fertility in those age groups. While these findings show that the disadvantage structure generated by social inequality limits demographic convergence, they also indicate that, thanks to measures specifically targeting the proximate determinants of mortality and fertility, headway can be made even under adverse conditions. Hence there is a clear need to step up those measures and to implement new policies and approaches to deal with emerging issues such as the inequality of fertility timing.

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