Concerns are rising over a new report indicating that 45% of children under the age of 18 in Latin America are living in poverty.
Latin American has the world’s second youngest population behind Sub-Saharan Africa, and a high rate of poverty among the youth demonstrates how the next generations in Latin American society could be facing deterimental development issues.
The survey of 18 countries was conducted by the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) and the Caribbean and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Although there is a large discrepancy reported between countries, even the lowest rate of child poverty in Costa Rica is still at 20.5 percent, with El Salvador as the highest at 86.8 percent. The ECLAC-UNICEF study indicates that “81 million people aged under 18 suffer from child poverty.”
The survey took into account compliance with the International Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as access to basic services, education, media, and nutrition. The long-term impacts of children growing up in poverty is that they are less likely to have access to higher education, which is the highest factor determining their social mobility into Latin America’s rising middle class.
Child poverty not only affects the day to day welfare of the child, but it also robs them of the opportunities to fulfill their potential within the society in which they live. Poverty is an entrapment, with the cycle of poverty through families and communities a reality for many in countries with a lack of social policy and government support.
According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) “A Latin American with illiterate parents is 10 times more likely to be illiterate than he is to finish university.” The quality of the education that children in Latin America have access to is still dependent on their socioeconomic background more than any other factor.
Not only does the high rate of child poverty in Latin America mean that millions of children suffer from a severe lack of basic goods and services such as food and medical care, but that poverty is creating an environment which is damaging in every way to the development of a generation of Latin American society.