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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
Between vulnerability and resilience
Latinamerica Press
8/21/2014
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Economic growth in the region does not guarantee decrease in inequality.

Presented on July 24 by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the 2014 edition of the Human Development Report, entitled “Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience,” discusses two topics that are interconnected and are important to ensure progress in human development:  vulnerability and resilience.

“This report argues for the need to sustainably improve the skills of individuals and societies with the goal of reducing these persistent vulnerabilities, many of which are structural and linked to the cycle of life,” maintains the UNDP. “Progress must be focused on the promotion of human development resiliency. Although there is a broad debate regarding the meaning of resiliency, we focus on human resilience which seeks to guarantee the soundness of current and future options for people and their ability to handle and adapt to adverse events.”

Despite the achievements in human development matters, Latin America and the Caribbean continue to be the region of the world with the highest income inequality.

“Inequality reduces the pace of human development and can even bring it to a halt. Although overall inequality in the HDI [Human Development Index], has recently declined, it is not sufficient to offset growing income disparities with progress in health and education. To tackle vulnerability and sustain recent achievements, it is crucial to reduce inequality in all dimensions of human development,” the report says.

In 2010 the UNDP introduced the inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI), which calculates how the progress of each country is distributed among the three dimensions of the HDI:  life expectancy, years of schooling and income. According to the IHDI, Latin America and the Caribbean loses 25 percent of human development due to inequality.

“Inequality affects not only those at the poorest end of the distribution, but it affects the entire society as a whole — as it threatens social cohesion and hampers social mobility, fuelling social tensions that can lead to civil unrest and political instability. Large income disparities can even undermine democratic values if wealthy individuals influence political agendas (for example, by securing tax breaks for top income earners and cutbacks in social services) or try to shape social perceptions (through the media),” the report notes.

According to the UNDP, the poorest two-thirds of the world’s population receive less than 13 percent of world’s income, while the richest 1 percent receives almost 15 percent.

“Beyond income, about half the world’s wealth is owned by the richest 1 percent of the population, with the richest 85 people collectively holding the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. Globalization, technological progress, deregulation of labour markets and misguided macroeconomic policies are likely to create and sustain these large gaps in income and wealth,” assures.
—Latinamerica Press

LATIN AMERICA/ THE CARIBBEAN
2014 Human Development Index (HDI)
Country
Rank
HDI*
HDI-D**
Chile
41
0.822
0.661
Cuba
44
0.815
n.a.
Uruguay
50
0.790
0.662
Bahamas
51
0.789
0.676
Barbados
59
0.776
n.a.
Antigua and Barbuda
61
0.774
n.a.
Trinidad and Tobago
64
0.766
0.649
Panama
65
0.765
0.596
Venezuela
67
0.764
0.613
Costa Rica
68
0.763
0.611
Mexico
71
0.756
0.583
Saint Kitts and Nevis
73
0.750
n.a.
Brazil
79
0.744
0.542
Grenada
79
0.744
n.a.
Peru
82
0.737
0.562
Belize
84
0.732
n.a.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
91
0.719
n.a.
Dominica
93
0.717
n.a.
Jamaica
96
0.715
0.579
Saint Lucia
97
0.714
n.a.
Colombia
98
0.711
0.521
Ecuador
98
0.711
0.549
Suriname
100
0.705
0.534
Dominican Republic
102
0.700
0.535
Paraguay
111
0.676
0.513
Bolivia
113
0.667
0.470
El Salvador
115
0.662
0.485
Guyana
121
0.638
0.522
Guatemala
125
0.628
0.422
Honduras
129
0.617
0.418
Nicaragua
132
0.614
0.452
Haiti
168
0.471
0.285

*Measures the average advances in health, education and income; values range from 1 to 0, with 1 being the highest HDI.
**HDI adjusted for inequality.

Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


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