Argentina’s poverty rate at the end of 2017 descended to 25.7 percent according to the INDEC, down on the 28.6 percent rate for the first half of 2017 and 30.3 percent at the end of 2016.
The INDEC figures also show that the through the end of 2017 17.9 percent of households were considered to be below the poverty line, an improvement on the 21.5 percent in the previous year. The extreme poverty rate for the second half of 2017 was 4.8 percent, down from the 6.2 percent in the previous six months and 6.1 percent from the end of 2016.
The INDEC estimates poverty rates by cross-referencing data on incomes taken from a sample group that is surveyed along with the value of a basket of goods deemed necessary to satisfy basic needs. 52,250 households were surveyed by the INDEC, with the distribution meant to account for 31 major urban centers and smaller cities.
The Indec statistics agency reported in January that the cost of the Total Basket of Goods (CBT) – the group of goods and services needed that determines the poverty line – for a household comprised of two adults and two children, increased by 26.8 percent in 2017 and clocked in at AR $16,677. The figure means that the cost to stay above the poverty line rose two points more than the annual inflation rate, which the agency determined to be 24.8 percent.
The figures do not take into account recent increases in utilities.
President Mauricio Macri said in response that “today we have positive numbers but we also know that we have much to resolve.” Macri has asked for his time in office to be judged on poverty reduction. “This is news that gives us hope for the future” he said, adding that “social plans are necessary but not enough for a better future.”
“We’re on the right path. Since the return of reliable statistics 2.7 million people have left poverty behind and close to 610,000 are no longer destitute” said the president. The INDEC at the end of the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration stopped publishing poverty statistics.
In terms of regional disparities, the part of the country with the highest poverty rate is the northeast (Corrientes, Formosa, Greater Resistencia and Posadas), with a poverty rate of 33.2 percent. In contrast the region faring the best is Patagonia, with a rate of 18.9 percent. Greater Buenos Aires (25.5 percent), Cuyo (26.3 percent), Northwest (25.2percent), and Pampas (25.4 percent) were in line with the national average.
Compared to a year ago, the region to have most improved its poverty indicators is Cuyo – which went from a poverty rate of 35.7 percent in the second half of 2016 to 26.3 percent in the most recent figures (equivalent to 9.4 percentage points).
The only region to actually see poverty rates go up was the Northeast again, which had a rate of 33.0 percent at the end of 2016 compared to the most recent rate of 33.2. The 33.2 percent rate is nonetheless on an improvement on the 33.6 percent poverty rate that the INDEC reported for the Northeast in the first semester of 2017.
The Northwest saw a reduction in its poverty rate of 6.2 percentage points, the Pampas 5.1 percentage points, and Patagonia 4.8 percentage points.
According to the INDEC, on average poor households have a gap of 35.5 percent between their incomes and the cost of the basket of goods that defines the poverty line. In the case of extreme poverty, the average is 39.1 percent.