Growth & development
Chilean and Latin American middle class growth tracked by U.N.
U.N.’s Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean and World Bank met in Santiago to discuss findings of earlier study on the region’s middle class.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Chile experiences increased growth and strength in its middle class. Photo by ·S/flickr
More than half of Chileans are experiencing an increase in their annual income, the United Nations (U.N.) declared after analysis of a study carried out by The World Bank published late 2012.
Representatives of the World Bank and the U.N.’s Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC) met in Chile’s capital in mid- January to discuss the results of the World Banks earlier findings. The World Bank’s study had examined Latin America’s middle class, whose voluminous growth over the past two decades has turned the heads of economists all over the globe.
“Latin America has been a middle-income region for more than a century – with an average income above that of half the world for a long time,” Augusto del Torre, chief economist for Latin America and the Caribbean, said at the conference. “But we’re just now beginning to be a middle class region, which is different.”
While Latin American nations have enjoyed growth as a whole, the World Bank highlighted Chile, Costa Rica, and Perú as the region’s “top middle class advocates.”
As of 2009, 73 million people have joined the ranks of Latin America’s middle class, equaling nearly 30 percent of the population overall. In total the World Bank study considered 153 million Latin Americans as part of an economically stable class.
“When one tries to understand which factors best predict social mobility, the greatest is education,” de la Torre explained, illuminating the reason behind the region’s overwhelming growth.
With this in mind, the World Bank revealed that Latin Americans on average have eight years of schooling up from earlier studies that found just five years to be the regional average.
Besides education, Torres noted that several other factors helped to spur Latin American nations along the path to becoming middle class societies including: subsidies for impoverished citizens, ameliorating methods of tax collection in order to fund public services, and focusing on social insurance rather than social protection.
Another factor in the region’s growth emerged when 70 million Latin American women joined the workforce, further stimulating economic rejuvenation.