Structural poverty impacts nearly six in ten children in Argentina. 59 percent of children under age 18 live without adequate food, housing, education or medical care, according to data from the Observatory of Social Debt at the Argentine Catholic University (UCA). That is 7.6 million children nationwide.
The report on social conditions in 2016, which UCA will publish this Wednesday, reveals that the number of children in poverty has not changed since the 2015 report. That seems like a bad omen for President Macri, who maintains that “zero poverty” is one of his principal term goals. But multidimensional poverty is not sensitive to quick fixes, according to Ianina Tuñón, coordinator of UCA’s Children’s Metric. Its measurement is based in the concept that children have rights to a livelihood. “The aspects we look at are less malleable than income and require more structural shifts,” said Tuñón to La Nación. “Progress is very slow over time.”
According to Indec, which only measures income, poverty dropped to 45.8 percent by the end of 2016. UCA paints a more nuanced portrait of “deprivation,” combining three models from the University of Bristol, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), and UNICEF’s Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA). According to its 2016 study, 15.4 percent of children were deprived of access to activities and education, 18.8 percent of access to information, 22.7 percent of access to health care, 25.2 percent to housing, 17.8 percent to sanitation and 8.7 percent to food.
The percent of children deprived in at least one of these categories nonetheless decreased 5.1 percent since 2010, the year that UCA began compiling data, when 63.7 percent of children lived in poverty. The newest study concluded that between 2010 and 2016, Argentina had “advanced” in the fields of sanitation, access to information, and education. Between 2015 and 2016, the rate of youth in “extreme deprivation” dropped from 15.9 to 14.8 percent. There was “no progress” since 2010, however, in access to housing, quality healthcare, or the most serious shortages in access to food.
If UCA were to retract the OPHI approach, which includes the most dimensions of poverty, analysts would see a 9.6 percent reduction in poverty since 2010. The thresholds for identification that researchers decide to establish determine such variations.