When we think about Third World countries we automatically think about Latin America, Africa, and South Asia because poverty is the norm. However, recent evidence demonstrates a steady reduction in poverty levels and a dramatic increase in middle class numbers in many Latin American countries. Mexico’s middle class for example has grown between the years 2000 and 2010 because of better access to education and their improved social programs. In fact, 17 percent of the population joined the middle class. Notice below, though it is slowly increasing at least Mexico is going in the right direction according to a McClatchy investigation from June 2012.
Furthermore, Columbia’s middle class has expanded by almost 50%, with Costa Rica, Chile, and Peru not far behind. In addition, evidence highlights that Brazil has been the fastest region to augment their middle class of over 40 percent (though some economists fear that Brazil’s impressive speed cannot be “sustained at its current pace and conditions of indebtedness.”)
There is no doubt in my mind that these dramatic changes are a product of having better access to quality education and a new generation of policy reforms compromising labor, taxation and social security. It is quite obvious to pinpoint that poverty levels are a direct result of social, racial, class and gender inequalities. People do not choose to be poor; it is rather a systematic issue and a social construction. What I mean by this is that not everyone has equal opportunities to obtain the best quality resources such as higher education which I strongly believe should be easily attainable by all. Generally speaking even the most powerful countries such as the Unites States recognizes that the nation needs a literate populous in order for democracy and capitalism to thrive. Furthermore, Regional Chief Economist Augusto De la Torre notes that the growth of the middle class over the past ten years is “down to growth dynamics and job creation.” It is quite logical that creating more jobs definitely boosts the economy. We have observed that fact throughout history. Yet, I believe that there must be policies that reduce inequalities such as racial, social, and gender so everyone has an equal chance of getting employed. Additionally, De la Torre suggests that reforms should include “better targeting subsidies for the poor, improving tax collection to pay for public services, and emphasizing social insurance such as unemployment benefits rather than social protection.” Therefore, if Latin America wishes to remain in their steady pace forward in terms of their economy, they should take in every bit of advice by experts. It takes an array of people to change large systems and adapt to them especially when a system has been implemented for many many years. Though it will inevitably take many more years to reduce the poverty levels, it is not a farfetched goal.