(See Latin America and Caribbean.)

Latin America and the Caribbean

World Bank Group in Latin America and the Caribbean

Steady growth and sound economic policies have improved the lives of millions in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region over the past decade.



The poverty rate dropped from 42 percent in 2000 to 25 percent in 2012, while the ranks of the middle class increased from 22 to 34 percent in those same years. For the first time ever, the number of people belonging to the middle class now surpasses the number of poor, a sign that the LAC region is moving toward becoming middle class.

The World Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean

In line with the World Bank Group's overall strategy centered on eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity, the World Bank's work in the region addresses the following core areas of shared prosperity, increased productivity, state efficiency, inclusive green growth, and disaster resilience.

Shared Prosperity. Despite impressive recent gains—a growing middle class and fewer poor—Latin America and the Caribbean remains a very unequal region, with some 82 million people living on less than $2.50 per day. In addition, while the middle class accounts for 34 percent of the region's total population, 38 percent of Latin Americans remain vulnerable to falling back into poverty. Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that inequality reduction may be stagnating. Addressing the inequality gap and creating opportunities for all is at the top of the Bank's regional agenda.

Increased Productivity. The region's extraordinary recent growth and ability to weather the 2008-09 global recession contrast sharply with its lagging productivity. Logistics costs are high, infrastructure is decaying, and education lacks quality. Logistics in LAC cost two to four times more than in countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, China; Singapore; the Republic of Korea; and Taiwan, China). While the share of Latin Americans with higher education rose from 9.5 to 14.2 percent in 1990-2009, the Asian Tiger economies went from 10 to 20 percent over the same period.

State Efficiency. Access to quality public services remains a challenge. Citizens have a diminished confidence in the state's capacity to provide efficient services, with many opting out if they can afford it. About 7 percent of the population does not have access to safe water and 20 percent of Latin Americans still lack access to sanitation. Citizen security is a development challenge for many countries, especially small ones, and governments are eager to develop an integrated response to growing crime and violence. The World Bank has been supporting these efforts through financing as well as high-level knowledge exchanges.

Inclusive and Green Growth. Latin America and the Caribbean has served as a global showcase for some of the most innovative environmentally friendly practices. Accounting for only 6 percent of global greenhouse emissions, the region has the lowest carbon-intensive energy matrix of the developing world. It has also adopted payment schemes for preserving the environment. But the economic bonanza of recent years has led to exploding urbanization: more than 80 percent of the region's population now lives in cities. The Bank's green growth agenda recognizes the paramount importance of the issue to the region's development and for preserving natural resources for future generations.

Disaster Resilience. Naturally prone to hazards, LAC is home to 9 of the top 20 countries exposed to disasters, which cost governments about $2 billion annually. Countries have become more disaster savvy and are increasing their focus on prevention. The Bank provides tools and mechanisms to boost resilience, including cutting-edge instruments such as catastrophic risk insurance.

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