Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Poverty levels and equality in Argentina and Brazil

A story about equality for young people in Argentina and Brazil gives us some facts and figures about poverty in those countries.

The United Nations Development Programme commissioned a report that asks if young people think that they have an equal chance to succeed. In the report, Argentina youth felt that things were unequal, which is a blow to the county's vision of an equitable society. Meanwhile, youth in Brazil had good hope for equality.

For our snippet, we focus on the figures on poverty levels from the two countries. From the IPS, writer Marcela Valente presented the poverty levels and how those can impact the lives of young people.

Argentina is highlighted as having the lowest poverty rate in the Mercosur bloc, along with Uruguay. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) puts it at 21 percent, while the official national figure for 2006 was 26.9 percent, the report says.

But (sociologist Sergio) Balardini said that the majority of the population living below the poverty line are children and young people. "If they can't get a quality education, and also have to take on responsibilities prematurely, there is an inter-generational reproduction of poverty," he warned.

"The discrimination experienced by young people who are poor is one manifestation of inequality. They live in a consumer society where 'to be' is 'to consume,' and this abruptly dispossesses them at a time when they need to make great efforts to construct their identity," the sociologist said.

Since 2007, poverty and inequality levels have increased in Argentina. However, it is the Mercosur country with the highest percentage of students completing university studies: one out of every eight young people aged 25 to 29, according to the study.

But it also found that the population below the age of 30 represents almost 60 percent of the unemployed in Argentina, as well as in Brazil and Uruguay.

The report describes the incorporation into the labour market on particularly disadvantageous terms as "unfavourable inclusion," a trend that is on the rise. Similarly, it says that in some cases the unemployed youngsters are "the third generation of unemployed, which weakens inter-generational transmission of the culture of work."

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