Social Panorama of Latin America 2016

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The central theme of this edition of Social Panorama of Latin America is social inequality, seen as a fundamental challenge and obstacle to sustainable development. Some of the axes and aspects of social inequality are addressed, drawing attention to how they intersect with and reinforce one another. The different chapters will examine inequalities in the distribution of income (personal and functional) and property; inequalities over the course of the life cycle; time-use inequalities between men and women; and the situation of Afrodescendent populations as an example of ethnic and racial inequalities. Recent trends in the amount of public resources available to finance social policies capable of tackling poverty and inequality and of promoting inclusive social development are also analysed.

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Social spending: Trends and challenges in policy financing

In 2016, low growth in the global economy (2.2%) for the eighth year in a row, global trade volume growth that was even lower and a moderate decline in commodity prices formed the backdrop to economic and social policymaking in the region’s countries. The region’s economies face major headwinds in these circumstances, as the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) argued in its recent Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean, and after recording negative growth in the aggregate in 2016 (estimated at -1.1%), they are expected to recover only modestly (1.1%) in 2017 (ECLAC, 2016b). The impact of this performance on the labour market has included a deterioration in the quality and quantity of jobs (urban unemployment in 2016 is estimated at 9%), especially in the South American countries. As analysed in other chapters of this edition of the Social Panorama of Latin America, high levels of inequality persist in the region.

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