March 9, 2014
official indec statistics vs uca universityFriday, December 27, 2013
Poverty anywhere from 30 to 4.7%
Measuring poverty in Argentina led to controversy once more yesterday after the Argentine Catholic University (UCA) published its index which reported more than 10 million poor in the country, leading to a response from the INDEC statistics bureau with plenty of criticism of UCA’s report.
INDEC used its last report published two months ago to respond to UCA, according to which there was a 4.7 percent poverty rate (450,000 homes) and 1.4 percent destitution rate (367,000 people) in Argentina in the first half of 2013. On the other hand, UCA concluded that 25 percent of the population is impoverished, adding to that figure 4.9 percent who are destitute.
“Reports published by private agencies are based on partial and wrong facts without any statistical rigour,” INDEC said in a press release yesterday. “They compare information or perceptions about areas such as housing, education and crime without any consistency.”
INDEC explained its methodology to analyze poverty and destitution in Argentina by comparing the total income stated by the people who reside at a home with the estimated wage needed to satisfy people’s needs, establishing a poverty and destitution limit. People who are below it are considered “poor” or “destitute”.
For the latter, INDEC establishes the value of a basic shopping-basket which includes the products needed to meet a minimum threshold of energy and protein needs for each household member. A “total” food basket is created with the poverty line, which includes additional goods and services such as education and health.
Nevertheless, both baskets are created with products whose prices are based on the official inflation index, leading to unrealistic prices. In its last report, INDEC estimated a basic shopping-basket of 759.35 pesos for a family formed by two adults and two children, with the price only growing seven percent so far this year. The total basket was estimated at 1,750 pesos with a 9.4 percent increment this year.
UCA’s report, called “structural heterogeneity and persistent social inequalities,” was created by the Social Debt Observatory with statistics obtained by the Social Debt Survey (EDSA). According to it, half the workers in the country are precariously employed and more than half of the new generations of adults are not included in the social security system. The survey used more indicators than INDEC to report poverty, saying also that more than three million people are malnourished and one of every 10 houses lack running water.
Nevertheless, UCA’s report can be also questioned. In its report last year, a 27 percent rate of poverty was estimated, placing the country on a par with Peru and Venezuela, the former of which used 9.9 percent of GDP on public spending in 2009, compared to the Argentine government’s 27.8 percent.
The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) revealed at the beginning of the month that Argentina has the lowest poverty rates and the second lowest destitution levels in the region, followed by neighbouring Uruguay.
According to the ECLAC report, which conglomerates countries’ official data, Argentina has managed to reduce poverty from 5.7 percent to 4.3 percent from 2011 to 2012.