Tuesday, June 29th 2004 - 21:00 UTC

Worst income distribution in decades.

Argentina currently has the worst wealth distribution of the last thirty years with a growing gap between the richest and poorest brackets according to a report published last weekend by Buenos Aires daily Clarin.

The report done the consulting company Equis and based on official data indicates that 10% of the richest population keeps 38,6% of the country's income, 31 times more than the poorest 10% of Argentines.

In the last thirty years those groups with the lowest, middle and upper middle income have lost consistently to the richest groups and the social gap is even more noticeable in the main urban areas of Argentina.

Between 1974 and 2001, the 10% richest have increased their portion of Argentina's income 35%, while the poorest lost 37%, the middle group 24% and the higher middle 12,8%, points out the report.

"The bulk of the population and particularly the middle class transferred to the higher bracket and the apex the equivalent of 15 billion US dollars annually", said Artemio López, Equis Consultant CEO.

In Buenos Aires city and its metropolitan areas where almost a third of the Argentine population lives, the rich currently earn fifty times more than the poor when back in 1974 the ratio was 12 to 1.

The inequality has not slowed or cooled in spite of the Argentine economy's accumulated growth of 8,7% in 2003 and an estimated 11,2% so far this year. Income concentration persists "in spite of efforts to change the current economic model" which was started in January 2002 when the strong devaluation of the peso which put an end to almost eleven years of a fixed exchange rate of one Argentine peso equivalent to one US dollar, underlined Mr. López.

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