Latin American Economy & Business Report

22/01/2020 - Does poverty drive protest?

Protests in Ecuador, an abrupt change of government in Bolivia, strikes in Peru, demonstrations in Colombia and the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela suggest the Andean region as a whole is in the throes of an upheaval. While different factors are in play in each country, could there be a shared diagnosis that rising poverty and inequality has been a contributing factor?

The relationship between economic factors and social unrest is never simple. But there is a potentially over-arching narrative that after the rising living standards of the commodities boom, the expansion of the middle class has slowed, inequality has once more begun to increase, and some people are slipping back into poverty. The latest Social Panorama of Latin America, a statistical and analytic compendium published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac) gives some qualified support for that hypothesis at a continent-wide level.

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