Around 17 million people in Argentina are poor, according to the latest figures from the widely respected Observatorio de la Deuda Social of the Universidad Católica Argentina (Social Debt Observatory of the Catholic University of Argentina, UCA).
In its annual report, the UCA body concluded that 43.1 percent of the population are living below the poverty line. Extreme poverty, according to the observatory, affects 8.1 percent or some 8.5 million people.
The study from UCA’s observatory underlined that poverty has grown by 10 percentage points according to its data over the past decade.
It observed that poverty is now affecting middle-class and lower-class workers substantially due to their vulnerability to “crises, lack of work and inflation,” while the nation’s poorest were reliant on “an informal subsistence economy, which does not get them out of poverty, but at least alleviates it.”
Most strikingly, the UCA report warns that without existing welfare support packages, poverty would rise to affect 50 percent of the population with extreme poverty rising to 20 percent. According to the study, around 40 percent of households receive some form of state assistance.
The profile of the Observatorio de la Deuda Social rose considerably during the administration of former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, when official statistics supplied by the INDEC national statistics bureau became unreliable. The government body’s official poverty survey is due to be published next March. In September, it reported a rate of 36.5 percent for the first half of 2022.
According to the report, Argentina’s poverty rate is increasing, with "sectors from the lower middle class forming a new layer of new poor."
"Neither economic liberalisation policies nor social assistance policies are sufficient on their own to promote a balanced development model in the productive and social spheres, with the capacity to include productive agents, labour sectors and the state in the same political-economic project, integrating the socially and labour-intensive society of the excluded into the social model," said the UCA report.
According to its authors, taking into account data on access to health, education, food, housing, public services, work and healthy habitat, "between 2010 and 2022, 70 percent of the population was affected in at least one of these fundamental rights."
"In population terms, this last figure implies that at least 13 million Argentines suffer from severe exclusion in access to goods and services of social inclusion," said the report.
If inflation were to fall to single digits, poverty would fall by 10 to 15 percentage points, UCA said. "It is not the increase in prices but the non-creation of new jobs, the deterioration of existing jobs and the fall in salaries, which generates imbalances,” the report reads.
In terms of employment figures, they detail that "only 40 percent of the economically active population has a decent or dignified job, either through salaried or non-salaried employment." This “strong labour segmentation is closely linked to chronic poverty and its increase over more than a decade," said the study.
"One particularity of the current economic cycle (post-Covid-19 pandemic) is that there is significant employment growth, but no recovery in labour income," it concluded.