Mauricio Macri’s government will end his term in office with 40.8 percent of the population living below the poverty line, according to a new report by the Observatory on Social Debt (Observatorio de la Deuda Social) by the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA).
The observatory's report, tied to the third quarter of the year, also detailed that 8.9 percent of the population live in extreme poverty.
In total, approximately 16 million Argentines are currently living in poverty, with 3.6 million in extreme poverty.
The hardest hit societal sectors, according to the report, are marginal workers. The report stated that “poverty most intensely impacts the social sectors of marginal workers, such as labourers, as well as homes in the Buenos Aires urban cone.”
A further breakdown of the results showed that children and adolescents aged 0-17 and those aged 18-29 are among the most affected by poverty, with those over 60 being the least affected. UCA also said that 59.5 percent of children and adolescents lived in one of the seven million households living in poverty nationwide, with 14.8 percent of children currently living in extreme poverty.
Food insecurity, a key indicator of poverty, rose from 7.9 percent to 9.3 percent in the last year.
In September, the INDEC national statistics bureau reported that 35.4 percent were considered poor in the first half of the year, the highest officially recorded level since 2001.At the end of 2018, official data put the figure at 32 percent.
The report received a mixed reaction, with some criticising the timing of publication, which was published on Wednesday hours before President Mauricio Macri was due to address the nation in a Cadena Nacional broadcast.
Jorge Todesca, INDEC's departing director, was among those who criticised the report, alleging it had “political intentions.”
“Announcing 40-percent poverty rates alongside the president’s speech points to a political intention. It’s unfortunate,” Todesca tweeted on Thursday.
Production and Labour Minister Dante Sica, was tight-lipped.
“I don’t want to get into discussing poverty numbers because anything above 15 or 20 percent is already an extremely hurtful figure for almost all the population,” he said in an interview with CNN Radio.
“In general, if you look at past UCA estimates, there is always an overestimation. Then when INDEC publishes their numbers, it is always a few points below,” the minister added.
Todesca, for his part, agreed with that assertion.
“I’ve never criticised data as sensible as that on poverty. UCA’s measures are always higher than INDEC's” the outgoing director Tweeted on Thursday.
Macri will leave office next Tuesday with a significantly higher poverty and destitution rate than when he assumed, after taking office in 2015 with a vow to deliver “zero poverty.”