In the midst of the economic crisis that the country has been going through for four years, the continuous flow of bad and pessimistic news on social and economic issues and the political maelstrom generated by the departure of Martin Guzmán as head of the Ministry of Economy, the transition of Silvina Batakis and the landing of Sergio Massa, “almost good news” appeared on the horizon last week: INDEC published a report on “Prevalence of Poverty and Homelessness”.
The official data is not enough to be “good news” in all caps. Poverty statistics are the epitome of “glass half full, glass half empty”. The truth is that behind the cold numbers are flesh and blood people. From the outset, a measurement that quantifies “poor people” can never be good news.
However, the government has at least a reason to smile. The data points to this in the first half of 2022, poverty declined for the fourth consecutive semester, down 5.5% from the peak recorded in mid-2020. in the midst of a pandemic. Meanwhile, poverty decreased by 1.7% over the same period.
An unprecedented situation that has been confirmed for some time is that poverty is beginning to affect registered workers as well.
It assumes Over the past year and a half, 1.4 million people have managed to escape poverty and 0.4 million people have left destitution behind.
However, on a deeper analysis of the official data, the reasons for celebration are more than ephemeral. The same statistics show that poverty continues to affect 36.5% of Argentinians, and poverty 8.8%. Translated it means that we still have them here 10.6 million people who cannot meet their basic needs and 2.6 million people whose income is insufficient for food.
If you turn a bit more subtle, there are two dimensions that emerge from the statistics that are even more delicate and require a final and urgent policy solution.
Kids in risk
The data on poverty and destitution become a stark challenge to the ruling class as a whole when observing the risky situation that lurks in Argentina’s children.
This is what the official statistics show 50.9% of people between the ages of 0 and 14 are poor in Argentina.
This is literally equivalent to saying Half plus one of the boys and girls in our country do not have their basic needs met. If the focus is limited to a range between 0 and 5 years, poverty reaches 1 in 4 people.
Similarly poverty haunts 12.7% of people between 0 and 14 years old. There are about 430,000 boys and girls who cannot eat properly.
In this sense, a study recently published by the Observatory of Social Debt at the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA) completes the panorama.
The report shows that “only 5% of Argentine children and adolescents (NNyA) simultaneously consume foods recommended by the Food Guides (GAPA) in frequent amounts (acceptable or adequate)”. He adds that “57% of children and adolescents have a diet of average quality, in which one or more of the protective or healthy food groups are consumed in amounts lower than recommended”.
This is an urgent and sensitive matter. Studies show that nutritional deficiencies in early childhood lead to irreversible consequences. Sooner than later, this basic deficit translates into learning and psychosocial health difficulties, which in the long run ensure the structural reproduction of poverty.
registered and poor
It is known that registered work is the only key that can truly, permanently and finally unlock the Gordian Knot of poverty.
In this sense, informal labor is one of the main scourges. Data currently reflect that 4 out of 10 Argentine workers They work informally, without social security and without a collective labor agreement to ensure that their income is updated against inflation. Generally, these are jobs that pay the minimum wage, which always runs behind the Common Core Basket (CBT), which defines the poverty line.
However, this is an unprecedented situation that has been happening for some time in our country Poverty is beginning to affect registered workers as well.
A recent report by the Argentine Center for Political Economy (CEPA) shows the relationship between registered wages and the poverty line. The study compared the average salary (the point at which the number of registered employees is divided in half) in relation to the development of CBT.
The attached graph shows a cross line located at 100%, which determines whether the recorded median wage is above or below the poverty line.
The data series show a significant deterioration between July 2017 and January 2020, when the ratio went from 112.7% to 84%, reaching a low of 81.8% after the first year of the pandemic and recovering to 87.1% in August 2022
The bottom line is unequivocal: the progressive deterioration of wages relative to inflation over the past five years has meant that even the lack of registered work serves as a safe haven to escape poverty.
- The level of coverage of average real wages in Argentina in relation to the poverty line (common basic basket).
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