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Social Panorama of Latin America 2006

image of Social Panorama of Latin America 2006

In the last four years, Latin America has turned in its best performance in twenty-five years in economic and social terms. Progress with poverty reduction, falling unemployment, improving income distribution in several countries and a strong upswing in numbers of jobs are the main factors underlying the positive trend in a number of the region's countries. The first two chapters of in this report look at the way the main social indicators have behaved in the last few years. The following two chapters address matters that, for different reasons, have come to figure prominently on government agendas.

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Wage inequality

Labour earnings, particularly wages, are the main source of household income, and thus a key determinant of distributional inequality in the region. Education remains the most important determinant of wage levels. Accordingly, most of the concentration of wage incomes stems from educational differences among the population, in terms of both years of schooling and the economic returns on each additional year of studies. To move towards a more equitable distribution of opportunities and incomes, it is essential to put greater effort into raising the quality and relevance of education, particularly at the secondary school level, to effectively develop the skills that are needed for employment and provide an adequate preparation for access to higher education.

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