The report, “2011 Social Panorama of Latin America,” points out that during 2010 the number of Venezuelans in poverty situation reached 27.8 percent. The countries with the lowest poverty index during 2010 were Argentina and Uruguay (8.6 percent), followed by Panama (25.8 percent), Venezuela (27.8 percent) and Peru (31.3 percent).
The countries with the highest poverty index included Hunduras (67.4 percent), Paraguay (54.8 percent), El Salvador (46.6 percent) and Colombia (44.3 percent).
The ECLAC found that, from 2002 to 2010, poverty was reduced by 20.8 percent, descending from 48.6 percent to 27.8 percent, while extreme poverty went from 22.2 percent to 10.7 percent, which translates to a reduction of 11.5 percent.
The report also states that from 1999 to 2010 Venezuela achieved the second highest rate of poverty reduction: 21.6 percent, falling from 49.4 percent to 27.8 percent. The first country was Ecuador, which reduced poverty by 26.4 percent, down from 63.5 percent to 37.1 percent.
The ECLAC figures coincide with those released by Venezuela’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), which found that poverty was reduced by 21.6 percent between 1998 and the first trimester of 2011, plummeting from 49.0 to 27.4 percent.
The President of the INE, Elias Eljuri, said last week during a televised interview that “ extreme poverty in Venezuela has been reduced since President Hugo Chávez became president. About 2.5 million people in Venezuela have opvercome extreme poverty from 1998 to 2011.”
He said that the poverty index currently reaches 6.8 percent and that increased social investment has been the key to this achievement.
“It’s important to compare the social investment in the years previous to the current government with the last 11 years… Social investment went from 36 to 62 percent. About $400 billion has been invested by this government, whose policy has been aimed at [elevating] the lower-income sectors,” Eljuri highlighted.
Eljuri also mentioned the Gini coefficient, an index used to measure income inequality, noting that Venezuela has Latin America’s lowest Gini coefficient, at 0.394. The closer the Gini coefficient is to zero, the closer a country is to total socio-economic equality.
“In the country this index lowered from 0.49 to 0.39. The closest nation to Venezuela is Uruguay, which is about 0.44. Chile reaches 0.52; Brazil and Colombia report about 0.51. Chile can have the same poverty index than Venezuela, 6.8 percent, but the Gini coefficient is higher because there’s more inequality,” he said
According to ECLAC, the inequality index in Venezuela dropped over 2 percent annually, while rising incomes played an important role in reducing inequality.
AVN / Press Office – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / January 13, 2012