Family, Poverty and Inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean


This article adopts the concept of development as freedom and the relationship between income and capabilities to analyze and compare macroeconomic, demographic and poverty trends and inequalities in Latin American and the Caribbean countries, and the responses from governments to promote the inclusion of the poorest and marginalized population groups in development and policies. Differences in population structures indicate that poverty and gender, generational and race inequalities fragment societies. Policies oriented to reduce poverty have been implemented with a set of combined programs such as cash transfers articulated with actions in nutrition, health, education, day-care programs for poor children, civil registration and other programs to promote poverty reduction and the conciliation of domestic and work life for poor women and social protection. Some good practices are discussed, particularly in Brazil and Mexico. During the last 15 years, the Conditioned Cash Transfers programs raised public support and political consensus, guaranteeing continuity in their implementation, development and integration with other social protection programs. Currently there are 18 countries implementing such programs, covering approximately 25 million households and over 133 million people, representing 19% of the Latin American and Caribbean. Policies to reduce poverty, in combination with income distribution and social protection in nutrition, health, education, civil registration and day-care for children, have contributed to human development, and also promoted internal market of consumers, even in rural areas, mobilizing local economies and promoting the return of investments to development. Despite the economic crisis in 2008-2009, Latin America had a relatively good performance in the world economy, demonstrating that social and economic inclusion can be compatible with development. That positive balance is fundamental to guarantee the inclusion of rural, indigenous, women and youth in access to services, as well as to reducing poverty and inequalities in the region.


Share and Cite:

Gomes, C. (2013). Family, Poverty and Inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean. Sociology Mind, 3, 25-31. doi: 10.4236/sm.2013.31005.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Bloom, D. E., Canning, D., & Sevilla, J. (2003). The demographic dividend. A new perspective on the economic consequences of population change. Pittsburg, PA: Rand.
[2] Castro, J. A., & Modesto, L. (2010). Bolsa família 2003-2010: Avan?os e desafios. Brasília, DF: Ipea.
[3] Chant, S. (1999). Informal sector activity in the third world city. In M. Pacione, (Ed.), Applied geography: An introduction to useful research in physical, environmental and human geography (pp. 509-527). London: Routledge.
[4] Fathalla, M. F. (1997). Gender discrimination undermines right to health for girl child. Geneva: International Pediatric Association, International Child Health.
[5] Gomes, C. (2001). Demographic dynamics, family and institutions. A comparative study- Brazil and Mexico, with emphasis in the elderly situation. Ph.D. Thesis, Mexico: El Colegio de México.
[6] Gomes, C. (2006). Households in moderate poverty in mexico: Profile and demographic interactions. In A. Venzor, C. Gomes, & G. Valenti, (Eds.), El Reto de la Informalidad y la Pobreza Moderada (pp. 147-184). México: Presidencia de la República: IBERGOP.
[7] Gomes, C. (2007). Transición demográfica en América Latina: Impacto y desafíos desde el trabajo y la reproducción. In J. Astelarra (Ed.), Género y Cohesión Social (pp. 53-62). Madrid: Fundación Carolina.
[8] Handa S., & Davis, B. (2006). The experience of conditional cash transfers in Latin America and the Caribbean. Development Policy Review, 24, 513-536. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7679.2006.00345.x
[9] Lagard, M., Haines, A., & Palmer, N. (2007). Conditional cash transfers for improving uptake of health interventions in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review. Journal of American Medical Association, 298, 1900-1910. doi:10.1001/jama.298.16.1900
[10] Lee, R., & Mason, A. (2003). What is the demographic dividend? Bekerly, CA: Bekerly University.
[11] Lloyd, C., & Blanc, A. (1996). Children schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa: The role of fathers, mothers and others. Population and Development Review, 2, 265-298. doi:10.2307/2137435
[12] Rawlings, B., & Rubio, G. M. (2005). Evaluating the impact of conditional cash transfer programs: Lessons from Latin America. Oxford: Oxford University Press and The World Bank.
[13] Sen, A. (1999). Development as freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[14] Téllez, M. M., & Gomes, C. (2006). Diagnosis on welfare and life conditions of the beneficiaries of the elderly component of the program oportunidades. Mexico, DF: Insp-Sedesol.
[15] UNDP (2004). Human development report 2004. New York: UNDP.
[16] World Bank (2006). World development report. Equity and development. Washington DC: The World Bank.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.