Chile's Ministry of Planning and Cooperation (MIDEPLAN) held its eighth population survey Caracterización Socioeconómica Nacional (CASEN-VIII), which found that for the 1999-2000 period, poverty in Chile fell by around 80,000 people, while indigence rose by 30,000. In percentage terms, the portion of the population in conditions of extreme poverty went from 21.7% in 1998 to 20.6% at the end of 2000. Indigence, or extreme poverty, however, rose slightly, from 5.6% of the population in 1998 to 5.7% in 2000.
The study, La pobreza en Chile en el año 2000 (Poverty in Chile in 2000), published as Nº 14 in the Estudios Estadísticos y Prospectivos Series of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) provides the preliminary results for this survey, comparing levels of poverty and indigence in the country in 2000 with conditions at the end of 1998. Juan Carlos Feres, Chief of the Social Statistics Unit of ECLAC's Division of Statistics and Economic Projections, authored the study, which was developed
in the framework of an agreement signed by MIDEPLAN and ECLAC.
Results from the CASEN-VIII survey reveal a weakening in the tendency for poverty to decline, which was apparent during the rest of the 1990s, along with a slight rise in the levels of indigence. Moreover, in the past two years enormous disparity among the
country's different regions became apparent, above all between urban and rural areas, differences that were also apparent in employment and household income trends.
Information from the survey leads to the conclusion that the sharp decline in Chile's economic growth from the third quarter of 1998 on, along with the open contraction apparent from the fourth quarter of that year through the third quarter of 1999, weakened but did not reverse a trend apparent since the early 1990s, in terms of declining poverty rates. However, in contrast, the situation affecting indigence, or extreme poverty, stagnated during the last two years of the 20th century.
In any case, figures show that Chile continues to hold a favorable position among Latin American countries, being one of the four countries with the lowest poverty levels (along with Uruguay, Costa Rica and Argentina). At the same time, its level of indigence is among the region's lowest, with only Uruguay showing better conditions.
Income Distribution and Employment according to data from the CASEN-VIII survey, trends affecting employment and income for different household groups varied considerably. At the end of 2000, income distribution in the country continued to reveal sharply different trends according to socio-economic strata. While the poorest 10%
of the population received only 1.71% of total income, the richest 10%
received 40.29%. This concentration was slightly greater in urban areas compared to rural ones.
Despite the fact that during the past two years, some relatively well-off strata (the 7th, 8th and 9th deciles) lost some of their share of total income, the enormous difference between the groups at each end of the scale continued, with the average income for the highest income household decile still 23.6 times more than the poorest decile, and almost 3 times the size of the 40% of lower income households. If we look at the percentage increase
in average household income for the different deciles, it is clear that during the 1998-2000 period the reduction in the enormous distributive problem facing the country for several years now was extremely slight.
Similarly, the change in unemployment affected regions unequally, with slight improvements apparent particularly in the central valley, with an agricultural tradition, while others deteriorated.
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