As American Inequality Increases, How Did Latin American Poverty Hit A 20-Year-Low?

By now, it is clear that the 99 Percent are in the streets in the United States for a very simple reason: widespread economic inequality and unfairness. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) illustrates this inequality with a graph charting income gains over the last three decades and how they’ve gone disproportionately to the top 1 percent:

Interestingly, as U.S. income inequality has skyrocketed, poverty has radically grown, and more Americans are dependent on government assistance like Medicaid and food stamps than ever before, a new United Nations report finds that poverty in Latin America has hit a 20-year-low.

The U.N.’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean illustrated this stunning drop in poverty with the following charts:

The drop in Latin American poverty is largely due to the effects of aggressive anti-poverty programs pursued by progressive governments over the last decade. “In response to the global economic crisis, the countries opted to temporarily expand public spending rather than to shrink it, which was the action traditionally taken. Although, the emphasis is not always placed on society, expansion still prevented the rise in unemployment and social vulnerability,” reads the UN report.


As much as the American political elite and major media demonize progressive governments south of the border, it appears that they at least have accomplished one very stunning feat: reducing poverty during of the world’s greatest economic crises while the world’s richest country continued to see poverty and inequality grow. There is a lot the United States can learn from this example.