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Latin America & Caribbean

It’s Time for Universal Pension Coverage in Latin America

Mariano Bosch's picture

 Local Fisherman in Mexico. Photo: Curt Carnemark / World Bank

The panorama of pension coverage in Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) is quite worrisome. Fewer than half of the 38 million older workers (aged 65 and older) are receiving a contributory pension — based on contributions (savings) accumulated during their active lives. This means only a small number of the region's elderly in a position to enjoy the two key objectives of pension systems: eliminating poverty in old age and maintaining an adequate standard of living for workers once they stop working.

Decentralizing the Bolivian Way

Jean-Paul Faguet's picture

Over the past 40 years, decentralization – that is, central governments devolving authority and resources to democratically elected sub-national governments – has been taking hold, to varying degrees, all over the world. We recently spoke with Jean-Paul Faguet – a Reader in the Political Economy of Development, London School of Economics, and Chair of the Decentralization Task Force of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia University – about how Bolivia fared in its big bang experiment with decentralization in the mid-1990s. He says that Bolivia’s overall results were quite impressive, especially for the poor.

Experiences from the Field—Part 3: Preparing Convicts in Brazil for the Outside World

Gianfranco Commodaro's picture

Brazil has the fourth largest population of inmates worldwide, a recipe for overcrowded, violent, inhumane prisons, and significant HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis infection rates.  In the hopes of reducing recidivism and crime and improving human dignity, Brazil has adopted the APAC (Association of Protection and Assistance for Convicts) Professional Qualification Project, We recently spoke with Gianfranco Commodaro, the Minas Gerais Director for the AVSI Foundation, who said the APAC project has helped dramatically reduce recidivism in Brazil, from 80-85 percent in the public penitentiary system to about 10 percent in APACs.

Brazil’s Single Registry Provides a Backbone for Social Programs

Claudia Baddini's picture

For Brazil, the Single Registry — called Cadastro Unico — serves as the backbone for its social programs (such as Bolsa Familia). It was introduced in the early 2000s and stands out as an example of best practices for countries eager to use Management Information Systems to identify the socio-economic profile of their poor people. We recently asked Claudia Baddini, Director of Cadastro Unico, about lessons learned so far. She stresses the importance of integrating job generation programs with social assistance and creating an anchor program that encourages people to register.

Tackling Haiti’s Extreme Rural Poverty

Steven Werlin's picture

Fonkoze is known as "Haiti's Alternative Bank for the Organized Poor." It's the largest micro-finance institution offering a full range of financial services to the rural-based poor in Haiti — serving more than 56,000 women borrowers and more than 250,000 savers. We asked Steven Werlin, Regional Director for Fonkoze's CLM program (which is for the ultra poor), about the organization's efforts to help rural women develop their own income-generating activity.

A Snapshot of Youth Training Programs in Brazil and the Dominican Republic

Claudia Sepúlveda's picture

Day workers unload bananas in an open air market in Manaus, Brazil. Photo: © Julio Pantoja / World Bank

If you are at the prime working age of 35-55 years old and watching the 2013 South American Youth Championship (Campeonato Sudamericano Sub-20) — which is taking place in Argentina and will qualify the four South American teams to the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup — then you may be forgiven for thinking of trading places with a 20-year-old. Young people are healthier and stronger, and they don't worry about waistlines and other signs of age. But one thing would worsen as a result of the trade: your labor market prospects. Young workers almost invariably have lower wages and higher rates of unemployment than older workers.

Time to Move from Measuring Jobs to Jobs Quality

Gladys Lopez-Acevedo's picture

Workers seting up an electric sub station in Santiago de Chile

There's widespread agreement that a stronger focus on quality jobs — typically thought of as jobs that are well paid, stable, and with reasonable conditions — are perhaps the best way for emerging and developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty and reduce inequality. However, there's little agreement on how to measure and analyze job quality not only because the literature on the topic is quite recent and heterogeneous but also because of a lack of adequate data to measure job quality properly. Today's blog looks at an innovative paper that tries to break new ground in measuring job quality. It focuses on Chile, which in recent decades has enjoyed strong economic growth — yet continues to suffer inequality and poverty.

Keeping Peru on a Strong Economic Path

Luis Miguel Castilla's picture

Over the past decade, Peru has enjoyed one of the best performing economies in Latin America – one that took the financial crisis in stride. Now its focus is on sustaining this trajectory and, with about a third of the population in poverty, spread the economic gains more broadly. The JKP team and Vox LACEA spoke on the subject with Luis Miguel Castilla, Peru’s Minister of Economy and Finance, who says his top economic priorities are growth, productivity, and social inclusion.

Vocational Training for Vulnerable Youth in Colombia

Jessica Owens's picture

With youth unemployment extremely high in Latin America, numerous government efforts have been under way to help the poorest individuals. In Colombia, the "Jóvenes en Acción" or "Youth in Action" program was introduced in the mid-2000s to provide job training to about 4,300 unemployed youth (ages 18-25) who lived in urban areas and fell into the two lowest deciles of the income distribution. Jessica Owens, a consultant with Colombia's Ministry of Labor, says that evaluations show that women fared the best under the program.

Getting a Better Grasp of How Fiscal Policies Affect Poverty in Latin America

Gladys Lopez-Acevedo's picture

 Walking on a mud-filled road in the Amazon. World Bank.

As Latin America tries to further reduce poverty and inequality, a big question is whether the current combination of taxes and benefits (such as cash transfers) are sufficient.  Nora Lustig—Professor of Latin American Economics at Tulane University—recently presented a seminal paper on equity and distribution at Universidad del Pacifico in Peru that suggests the answer is no.

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