Poverty & Social Inclusion
In spite of much progress over the past decade, many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to have high levels of poverty and inequality. Indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants have lower levels of education, worse health and nutrition outcomes, and higher poverty levels than the rest of the population. Social assistance programs attempt to level the playing field.
Many countries in the Region have conditional cash transfers (CCTs) programs that redistribute income to the poor and encourage them to invest in human capital. CCTs have reduced poverty rates and improved school enrollment and the use of preventive health services. However, challenges around CCTs include improving coordination with health and education services, and ensuring that they encourage people to work. Also, they are not available for the transient poor, or for poor households without children.
IDB-financed programs help reduce racial and ethnic inequalities in the Region on many fronts. Some improve access to, and the quality of, education and health services in areas with large indigenous and Afro-descendant populations. Others help indigenous populations with sustainable natural resource management. Still others help ethnic minorities gain access to employment.
Women in Latin America and the Caribbean have matched or surpassed men in their schooling levels in most countries; but they continue to be at a significant disadvantage in the labor market. Programs that make it easier for women to work, including access to childcare and flexible hours, can help reduce these inequalities.