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ARGENTINA | 25-03-2019 14:35

31.3% of population living below poverty line, says UCA report

Nearly a third of the population in Argentina were living below the poverty line at the end of 2018, a new report from the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA) has found.

Just under a third of the population in Argentina were living below the poverty line at the end of 2018, a new report from the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA) has found.

The latest report UCA's Social Debt Observatory (Observatorio de la Deuda Social de la Universidad Católica Argentina), which uses a multi-dimensional system of indicators to measure poverty, indicates that the rate rose by 4.7 percentage points from the previous years figure of 26.6 percent, with a total of 12.7 million in Argentina now suffering from a lack of food, housing and access to healthcare and education.

That's the highest figure UCA have reported since it began to measure poverty in urban areas not only by income – as the INDEC national state statistics bureau does – but through a series of other measurements including access to food, health, housing, education, employment and social security systems.

INDEC is due to publish its data for the second half of 2018 on Thursday. The bureau's official data for the first half of the year estimated poverty stood at 27.3 percent of the population.

UCA's study defines as poor those who, in addition to lacking income, do not have access to at least one of what it views as basic socio-economic rights.

In 2018, multidimensional poverty experienced a sharp increase "due to the growth of income poverty, lower wages, loss of employment and greater job insecurity, in the current inflationary and stagnation context," said Agustín Salvia, the director of UCA's Social Debt Observatory who led the study.

In the last year "the most impoverished have been the working sectors and the lower-middle classes," concludes the report.

"A large part of the growth of multidimensional poverty and structural poverty was mainly due to the increase in income poverty," said Salvia, a reference to last year's economic crisis and currency turmoil, which saw the value of the peso depreciate against the dollar, the economy shrink by 2.6 percent and inflation soar to 47.6 percent.

According to the report, 30 percent of households are marginalised in terms of labour rights, with 28 percent of households having no link to the welfare system.

In Greater Buenos Aires, the most populated region of the country, the poverty rate rose to 41.1% percent, UCA found. In 2018 alone, 750,000 people in the region slipped into poverty.

"This segment of society seems to be left over from this type of economic model, which is only served with monetary assistance, but not with effective economic, social and human development policies," said Salvia. "But these policies are still absent from political debate."

- TIMES/AFP

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