The 1990s in Latin America: Another Decade of Persistent Inequality, but with Somewhat Lower Poverty
Journal of Applied Economics, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 317-339, November 2003
This paper processes 76 household surveys from 17 Latin American countries to document changes in poverty and inequality during the 1990s, and performs an analysis of the effect of economic reforms on inequality and poverty by using an expanded data base of 94 surveys spanning the 1977-2000 period. We show that there is no country in Latin America where inequality declined during the 1990s. Poverty declined in 10 or 11 out of the 17 countries for which household surveys are available to us, depending on the poverty measured used. Persistently high inequality inhibited further poverty reduction. One important factor contributing to the persistently high inequality level is financial liberalization. Trade liberalization and a more stable macroeconomic environment had a slight inequality-reducing effect.
Keywords: Inequality, poverty, Latin America
JEL Classification: D31, O12, O54
Date posted: August 31, 2004