Over the last decade Latin America and the Caribbean region has achieved important progress towards the World Bank Group's goals of eradicating extreme poverty and boosting income growth of the bottom 40 percent, propelled by remarkable economic growth and falling income inequality. Despite this impressive performance, social progress has not been uniform over this period, and certain countries, subregions and even socioeconomic groups participated less in the growth process. As of today, more than 75 million people still live in extreme poverty in the region (using $2.50/day/capita), half of them in Brazil and Mexico, and extreme poverty rates top 40 percent in Guatemala and reach nearly 60 percent in Haiti. This means that extreme poverty is still an important issue in both low- and middle-income countries in the region. As growth wanes and progress in reducing the still high levels of inequality in the region slows, it will be more important than ever for governments to focus policies on inclusive growth.
The book includes an overview that highlights progress towards the goals of poverty eradication and shared prosperity between 2003 and 2012, unpacks recent gains at the household level using an income-based asset model, and examines some of the policy levers used to affect social outcomes in the region. It draws on 13 country studies, eight of which are featured in this volume: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. The other case studies include: Bolivia, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Honduras, which will be included in the web version of the book.