The extent of poverty and the degree of inequality in Latin America are both problems with a long history. The first is a reflection above all of the low average level of income and the gap in living standards between Latin America on the one hand and developed countries on the other. The second is a consequence of both the region’s colonial heritage and the style of development pursued since independence in the 19th century. Yet the differences between Latin American countries in both the extent of poverty and the degree of inequality suggest that there are some degrees of freedom open to policy-makers pursuing greater equity. As the countries of the region enter the 21st century, subject to political systems that now give more voice to the most disadvantaged groups, the need to understand the forces that shape poverty and income distribution has never been greater.


Income Distribution Gini Coefficient Trade Liberalisation Lorenz Curve Debt Crisis 
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Copyright information

© Institute of Latin American Studies 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victor Bulmer-Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Latin American StudiesUniversity of LondonUK

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