World / Social Issues

Poverty haunts third of Argentina's population, first data in years show

Reuters

Nearly one-third of Argentina’s population lives in poverty, the government said on Wednesday in the first official poverty data published in three years, underscoring the difficulty of reaching President Mauricio Macri’s stated “zero poverty” goal.

The ranks of the poor surveyed in Argentina totaled 8.8 million people, or 32.2 percent of the population in 31 urban areas surveyed. Just over 6 percent of the population qualified as “indigent” in the second quarter of 2016, statistics agency Indec said.

Macri has enacted a number of market-friendly reforms since taking office in December, pleasing Wall Street but spurring inflation and swelling the ranks of the poor.

He also revamped government statistics agency Indec after widespread allegations of manipulation by former leftist President Cristina Fernandez. The agency last published poverty data in October 2013 for the first half of 2013, when it said just 4.7 percent of people lived in poverty.

In the absence of reliable government data, Macri has cited poverty statistics from researchers at the Catholic University of Argentina. Those data showed 32.6 percent of Argentines lived in poverty as of April, up from 29 percent in December 2015, as Macri’s decisions to lift currency controls sent inflation soaring as high as 40 percent.

The economy also remains mired in recession, with GDP shrinking 2.1 percent in the second quarter of 2016.

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