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10 facts about living conditions in Paraguay
According to the World Bank report in 2017, Paraguay has achieved impressive economic and shared prosperity over the last 15 years. From 2014 to 2017, Paraguay’s economy grew by 4.5 percent per year on average. In 2015, the middle class made up 38 percent of the total population, almost doubling since 2003.

For Paraguay’s poor, though, living conditions have remained difficult. Indeed, the country ranks fourth in extreme poverty, after Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua, according to a 2016 ECLAC report. In the article below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Paraguay are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Paraguay

  1. Inequality is widespread. Though the country’s GINI coefficient, that indicates economic inequality, has dropped from 0.51 to 0.47, there is still a significant gap between rich and poor Paraguayans. According to the General Statistics Surveys and Census Bureau (DGEEC), the poorest 40 percent of Paraguayans earn only 12.5 percent of the nation’s revenue, while the richest 10 percent earn 37.1 percent of the total income.
  2. Underemployment is high and working conditions are poor. In 2017, underemployment was recorded at 19 percent, while 20 percent of Paraguayans worked less than 30 hours per week. In the Chaco region of Paraguay, region dominated by large-scale cattle agricultural facilities, some workers characterized their working conditions as a form of slave labor.
  3. Small-scale farmers are losing their jobs due to the big agricultural companies. Almost 90 percent of the land belongs to just 5 percent of landowners. The rural-urban economic gap is the result of large-scale agriculture steadily monopolizing the market in Paraguay. Studies have confirmed that, between 1991 and 2008, when the last National Agricultural Census was conducted, the number of farms and homesteads covering less than 100 hectares has shrunk, while those between 100 and 500 hectares has risen by almost 35 percent, and massive plantations covering more than 500 hectares are up by almost 57 percent. In late March 2017, 1,000 farmers converged on Asunción, country’s capital, in an annual march, demanding agrarian reform.
  4. Paraguayan democracy is lacking in social components. It consists almost exclusively to ensure that institutions function, elections are held regularly and transparently. A steady stream of scandals has revealed widespread fraud and corruption.
  5. One-fifth of the people who live in Asunción live in slums. Although complete official accounting of informal settlements is not available, the National Housing Bureau, SENAVITAT, estimates that there are 1,000 slum areas around the city. Slums along the flood-prone riverbanks of the city sometimes house up to 100,000 people. There has been a dramatic increase in the production of social housing for low-income families living in Asunción. In 2016, the Ministry built more than 10,000 low-income housing units, compared to less than 2,000 units built in 2014.
  6. Paraguayans face hunger and malnutrition. Only 6 percent of agricultural land is available for domestic food production, while 94 percent is used for export crops. According to the Food Security Index, around 10 percent of children under the age of 5 currently suffer from stunting. Nearly 27 percent of pregnant women are underweight, while 30 percent are overweight.
  7. Educational attainment is lacking. The 2016-2017 Global Competitive Index of the World Economic Forum ranked the overall quality of Paraguay’s primary education system at the 136th place out of 138 countries. Around 65 percent of children do not complete secondary education which is one of the highest dropout rates in Latin America. The latest 2017 household survey showed that about 5 percent of the adult population, or roughly 280,000 people, are still illiterate. This number has not decreased over the past decade.
  8. The rates of poverty and extreme poverty among indigenous people are at 75 percent and 60 percent, respectively. Factors such as corruption, the concentration of land ownership and environmental degradation combined with institutional weaknesses hinder progress in alleviating poverty and create obstacles for the indigenous people to maintain access to their fundamental rights, such as water, education and health care. The rate of chronic malnutrition among the indigenous population is 41.7 percent. Some indigenous communities have seen improvements, though, in regards to increased food security. A food-security cash-transfer program, Tekoporã, expanded to cover more indigenous population- from 3 percent in 2013 up to nearly 70 percent in 2018.
  9. Health care is not accessible to everyone. An estimated 40 percent of the population is unable to afford health care of any kind. Around 7 percent have private health coverage and 20 percent are covered by the health services of the social security institute, the Instituto de Previsión Social. The rest depend on the public health system.
  10. Paraguay has made giant leaps in increasing access to clean drinking water. The country triumphantly achieved almost complete access to safe drinking water among its rural population, from 51.6 percent in 2000 to 94 percent in 2017.

These 10 facts about living conditions in Paraguay provide a snapshot of the experience of Paraguay’s poor and exemplify that economic growth does not always translate to improved living conditions for everyone.
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in Rwanda

Small, landlocked and with a densely packed population of approximately 11.9 million people, Rwanda has become one of the fastest growing economies in Central Africa. Since the 1994 genocide that left 800,000 dead, Rwanda has seen over two decades of uninterrupted economic growth and social progress.

However, even with these great strides, more than 60 percent of the population continues to live on less than $1.25 a day. The government has guarded its political stability since the genocide and has prioritized long-term developmental goals to assure that its economy continues to grow and poverty falls. Here are 10 important facts about poverty in Rwanda.

10 Facts About Poverty in Rwanda

  1. Rwanda’s global income ranking has improved from the seventh poorest in 2000 to the twentieth in 2015. This is due to the government’s commitment to strong governance and the principles of market economy and openness.
  2. Although more than 60 percent still live in extreme poverty, Rwanda has reduced the percentage of people living below the poverty line from 57 percent in 2005 to 45 percent in 2010.
  3. The decline in poverty can be attributed to three main reasons: an increase in farm productivity, an increase in non-farm employment and an “increase in the number of livelihood activities in which an individual engages, such as running small businesses,” according to United Nations Rwanda.
  4. The country’s Vision 2020 is a strategy that aims to “transform the country from a low-income, agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy with middle-income country status by 2020,” the World Bank reports.
  5. To achieve Vision 2020’s goals, the government has developed a medium-term strategy, the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 2). This showcases its overarching goal of growth and poverty reduction through four areas: rural development, economic transformation, government accountability, productivity and youth employment.
  6. Inequality measured by the Gini coefficient fell from 0.49 in 2011 to 0.45 in 2014.
  7. Almost 64 percent of parliamentarians are women in Rwanda, compared to just 22 percent worldwide. This has enabled women to advance economically.
  8. As it continues to rebuild after the genocide, foreign aid still contributes to 30-40 percent of the Rwandan government’s revenues.
  9. Economic growth fell by 4.7 percent in 2013 after some donors withheld aid over a 2012 U.N. report that alleged the government was backing rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  10. At the end of 2015, Rwanda had met most of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). With a two-thirds drop in child mortality and near-universal primary school enrollment, the country saw strong economic growth accompanied by substantial improvements in living standards.

These facts about poverty in Rwanda demonstrate the current programs and priorities. With a strong focus on homegrown policies and governmental initiatives like Vision 2020 and EDPRS 2, Rwanda has contributed to significant improvements in access to services and human development. The country’s Growth Domestic Product (GDP) grew eight percent each year from 2001 to 2014 and continues to see improvements in life expectancy, primary school enrollment, literacy and healthcare spending.

However, economic growth has been slowing down recently and remained subdued in 2017. Although the country still has some ways to go, these 10 facts about poverty in Rwanda are meant to show a glimpse into the remarkable growth the country has seen already.

– Aaron Stein
Photo: Google


Singapore is seldom thought of as a poor country since the nation ranks fourth in the richest countries in the world; however, the reality is that many Singaporeans live in poverty. For far too many people, poverty in Singapore is a fact of life.

The Top 10 Poverty in Singapore Facts:

1. Singaporeans have to live on $5 a day

Four-hundred thousand Singaporeans live on $5 a day. Singaporeans Against Poverty, the campaign whose concern is “for those in Singapore caught in the cycle of poverty despite our economic success,” began the $5 challenge, where people can pledge money and try to live on a $5 per day budget.

2. Some Singaporeans have no income

A survey from the Housing Development Board showed that one-third of Singaporeans living in one or two room flats have no source of income. Additionally, an Ipsos APAC and Toluna study found that 62 percent of Singaporeans state that their dissatisfaction is a result of their personal financial situation.

3. There is no official poverty line in Singapore

According to Worldbank, there are several reasons to measure poverty: “to keep the poor on the agenda; if poverty were not measured, it would be easy to forget the poor.” Additionally, poverty lines “target interventions that aim to reduce or alleviate poverty,” and finally, measurements help to evaluate projects, policies and institutions that aim to help the poor.

In a Straits Times article, it was stated that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong doesn’t believe establishing poverty lines will be helpful as there are great disparities between poor groups in Singapore; each group requires “different sort and scale of help… This cannot be accomplished by a rigid poverty line, he said, which might be polarising and leave some outside the definition of poor.”

4. Singapore’s wealth gap is one of the widest

As noted in the CIA World Factbook, Singapore was ranked 36th out of 150 countries for income inequality in 2016 based on the Gini coefficient, a ratio of highest to lowest incomes. This means that the high-income households are extremely wealthy, while the low-income households are extremely poor. In fact, a Credit Suisse report showed that more than a quarter of the country’s wealth is held by the top 1 percent of the population.

5. The Gini coefficient has begun to decrease

According to the Singapore Management University (SMU) handbook, the government has begun to acknowledge the wealth disparity. Although Singapore is still ranked high for income inequality, the Gini coefficient has decreased in the past two years.

6. Wages fall for low-income households

In the SMU handbook, it was stated that the bottom 20 percent of workers saw a decrease in wages between 1998 and 2010.

7. Singapore is the most expensive city to live in

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore was the most expensive city to live in in 2017 for the 4th year running. This makes it increasingly difficult for the impoverished population to afford basic necessities.

8. Increase in cost of goods and services

Likewise, the past three years saw a 13.1 percent increase in goods and services, according to Singaporeans Against Poverty.

9. More Singaporeans are being covered under ComCare

ComCare was established by the Singaporean government in 2005 to provide assistance to needy families who are either unable to work or are currently searching for employment.

As reported in the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the number of Singaporeans being covered under ComCare grew from 13,479 in 2012 to 18,996 in 2015, but the government claims this is not due to higher poverty levels; rather, it says it’s due to changes to the program.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development has extended coverage so that more families can apply for ComCare.

10. Singaporean government is taking steps towards alleviating poverty

As noted in The Observer, the government has put plans into place to fight poverty. Of these are plans are the goals to reduce the cost of education, to exempt lower-income families from paying taxes and to contribute cash payments to those in need.

These top 10 poverty in Singapore facts demonstrate the acute issues for low-income houses. However, the Singaporean government is making considerable strides to help its people, enough so that these top 10 poverty in Singapore facts may eventually become irrelevant.

– Olivia Booth
Photo: Flickr

Malaysian GovernmentMalaysia is currently on the rise as far as its economy. The country is now considered an upper-middle income economy that has become a leading exporter of electronic appliances, electronic parts and components, palm oil and natural gas.

Malaysia has been successful in eradicating most poverty in the country with less than 1 percent of households living in extreme poverty. The states of Penang, Selangor, Malacca and the federal territories showed marked improvements in 2012 with no extreme poverty in these regions.

“This is proof that the Federal Government’s initiatives to eradicate poverty have succeeded and been of benefit to the rakyat regardless of differences in political ideology,” Malaysia’s economic planning minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said.

The Malaysian government has done an admirable job of exceeding the Millennium Development Goals which were introduced in 1990. Malaysia succeeded in halving the number of people living on less than a dollar a day much before the 2015 expectant date.

“This is a result of rapid economic development and the effectiveness of poverty eradication programs carried out by the government,” Yakcop said.

According to the Malaysian government, fewer than 110,000 people were living in poverty and that the poverty statistics had nearly been halved within the span of three years. According to this information, the overall poverty rate in Malaysia dropped to 1.7 percent in 2012 which is a significant change compared to the 3.8% in 2009.

The fall in poverty rates was felt in both urban and rural areas. In urban areas, the number of impoverished people fell to just 1 percent in 2012 compared to 1.7 percent in 2009. In rural areas, the numbers were staggering. Poverty rates dropped from 8.4 percent in 2009 to 3.4 percent in 2012.

The focus of the Malaysian government has shifted toward the well-being of “the bottom 40” or poorest 40 percent of the population. Between From 2014 the average household of “the bottom 40” grew at 11.9 percent a year compared to 7.9 percent from 2009 for the total population.

Income inequality still remains a major issue in Malaysia compared to other East Asian countries but the disparity is gradually declining. According to its Gini coefficient, a measurement of income inequality where 0 and 1 indicates perfect inequality, Malaysia scored around 0.49, one of the highest in the region.

Though Malaysia still has some significant work to do as long as income equality, state programs have been put in place to alleviate much of the disparity. With the help of its own government, Malaysia stands as a significant example of a success in the region.

Drew Hazzard

Photo: Flickr

Overcoming income disparity

Equitable growth is seldom easy to achieve. Despite rising levels of GDP, the proliferating rates of income disparity in many countries may impediment the fight against global poverty. The “Trickle Down Effect” is often the culmination of an economic boom, where regardless of rising incomes and prices, the gap between the rich and the poor does not waver. Thus, the disparity increases the Gini Coefficient which is a vital economic indicator that countries use.

A recent analysis conducted by the Overseas Development Institute explains how poverty, growth and disparity are co-mingling factors. Countries like Slovenia and Denmark have a coefficient of under 25, while large economies such as China have Gini values of 46.9.

Moreover, the poverty rates in countries with lower disparities such as Denmark stand at only 3.4 percent living under less than 50 percent median income. In contrast, India with a disparity value of 33.6 has a concurrent poverty rate of 23.6 percent according to the World Bank.

The striking variation between these countries can be attributed to the distinct fiscal and monetary policies that are followed by governments.

Overcoming income disparity is critical when it comes to to the world’s poor, especially during rapid periods of growth. With rising prices and limited credit amounts, many cannot afford necessities to help support their families. Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivorie and many parts of Sub Saharan Arica have suffered as a result. Social and labor immobility becomes prevalent.

Additionally, the different levels of education have aggravated this issue along with the division between the rural and urban sectors. The poor find it difficult to seek jobs owing to the fact that they only have a basic education. Therefore the rich find it easier to seek jobs and are paid more as they possess more skills. The labor market unfortunately runs on this principle.

While coping with income disparity and economic uncertainty, China had introduced the 12th Five- year Plan for Poverty Reduction Village by Village in rural areas along with various supply side policies. The provision of 21 billion yuan was successful. Per-capita net income of rural residents rose to 9.2 percent. Equal rights to employment was seen when 13.12 million urban jobs were created to overcome the critical situation.

Additionally, the Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART) in India has tried to maintain the urban-rural gap. Per-capita income has increased and is said to have overtaken Pakistan, based on a recent report by the World Bank.

Overcoming income disparity is critical to combatting global poverty. The introduction of progressive taxation would slacken the burden on lower income groups.

Bridging the gap by investing more in education is imperative so that all socioeconomic groups benefit and are equally equipped while seeking jobs.

Entrepreneurship should be encouraged to make the poor more economically self-sufficient. The World Toilet Organization has spearheaded the creation of Sanishops to train local entrepreneurs in parts of Africa. Providing subsides and capital ventures to start-ups will also increase incentives to work, amid the droughts, disparities and skirmishes in South Africa.

Over the years, a number of grassroots organizations such as Other 98 percent, US UNCUT and Mind the Gap have drawn national and international focus towards the issue of overcoming income disparity. Despite being part of thriving economies, many undermine the presence of poverty that continues to exist.

Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

latin_america_middle_class
When people are asked to picture Latin America, an image of poverty usually comes to mind. Yet while it is true that Latin America has historically been a region of high rates of poverty and income inequality, income inequality has in fact declined in 13 of 17 countries as measured by the Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient is used to determine the level of income inequality in a country wherein a score of 0 is given to countries with complete equality (countries whose citizens have the same income) while a score of 1 is given to perfectly unequal countries (those in which one person owns all the income).

Recent data by the World Bank suggests that there has been a successful push to reduce poverty in the region, with the number of people living in extreme poverty (defined as those living on less than $2.50 a day) halved to 12.3 percent between 2003 and 2012. The largest proportion of the population, at 38 percent, includes those that are most vulnerable to falling back into poverty. This last part includes those making between $4-$10 a day. The middle class in Latin America is growing extremely rapidly at 34.3 percent of the population and is set to overtake the most vulnerable to become the largest segment of Latin America. The middle class is defined as the number of people who earn between $10-$50 a day.

Yet these numbers are a bit misleading. There continues to be a large degree of inequality between Latin Americans of different ethnicities. In Brazil, 76.4 percent of primary school children who are descended from Europeans are enrolled in school, while only 65.3 percent of indigenous or African children are enrolled. Similarly, in Chile 97 percent of families of European descent are enrolled in school, while 74.4 percent of children of indigenous or African descent are enrolled.

This is significant because as the middle class expands, it’s going to be able to expend more money on disposable goods and fuel economic growth. It will also be interesting to see what happens as the middle class demands more of a stake in the political process.

– Jeff Meyer

Sources: World Bank, IARIW
Photo: Not Adam and Steve

wealth gap
According to a study by the the Brookings Institution, the gap between the rich and the poor is the largest in some of the richest American cities. The Associated Press quoted the Brookings study saying, “The economic divides in Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington, New York and Los Angeles are significantly greater than the national average.”

Senior fellow at Brookings Alan Berube said that a relationship exists between inequality and economic success since the aforementioned cities “are home to some of the highest paying industries and jobs in the country.”

Berube argues that many of these cities have a widening gap between rich and poor people due to their public housing and the services that attract low-wage workers. But according to the AP, “the findings come at a delicate moment for the country, still slogging through a weak recovery from the Great Recession.”

The United States is undoubtedly going through some tough times. But how is the country’s income inequality compared to other nations?

The Washington Post claims the way in which income inequality is measured is going through some changes. For many years, economists often relied on the Gini coefficient to measure the income distribution throughout nations. However, others argue the Palma ratio should be adopted instead. Unlike the Gini coefficient, this formula makes it easier to measure the gap between rich and poor people in societies.

The U.S. ranks “well below every other developed society measured,” the Post suggests after analyzing 86 nations with the Palma ratio. “It’s one spot below Nigeria, which has some of the worst political corruption in the world and in 2012 saw nationwide protests over perceived income inequality.

In other words, despite America’s having more economic equality than most of the world, it is still placed “at the bottom end of the developed world.” Nevertheless, of the 50 biggest cities in the U.S., the AP said only 18 of them experienced inequality that was statistically significant since the recession occurred. However, this was largely due to the declining incomes of the poorest residents of these cities.

Allowing this pattern to continue will be detrimental to American societies in the long run. Therefore, to prevent the wealth gap from expanding in prosperous U.S. cities and to avoid the potential dissent that such inequality caused in other global cities, Washington needs to come up with a plan to make America less unequal.

Juan Campos

Sources: AP, The Washington Post