At least 21.9% of Argentines poor, according to the Catholic University
Poverty in Argentina is at least three times the official figure presented by the controversial government stats office, Indec, if the criteria and methodology applied by the Argentine Catholic University Social Debt Barometer are taken into account.
The work hypothesis is very reasonable and argues on the official methodology applied by Indec which states that a person can live in Argentina with 13 Pesos daily (2.80 US dollars at the official exchange rate and 2 dollars at the parallel market), since it estimates that a family of four ceases to be poor with a daily income of 52 Pesos (11.20 and 8 US dollars).
Based on this definition, according to official propaganda, poverty in Argentina has been falling semester after semester and now stands at 6.5% of the population, equivalent to 2.2 million people, which does not necessarily coincide with some daily symptoms such as thousands scavenging garbage containers in all Argentine cities and in the city dumps.
But according to the Argentine Catholic University Social Debt Barometer, supported by regular surveys, an estimated 10.8 million poor people live in Argentine cities of which 2.1 million in conditions of indigence.
To reach these numbers the Catholic University works with the same basic basket of Indec but adjusted to real inflation (24% versus the official 10%) and taking into account the prices of some provinces stats offices considered reliable.
The conclusion is that an Argentine family not to be considered poor needs a daily income of 120 Pesos (26 and 19 US dollars according to the exchange rate), which works out at 30 Pesos per person per day or 3.600 Pesos per month for a family of four (782 and 562 US dollars).
Based on this estimate, poverty in Argentina would treble or more the official 6.5% from Indec to 21.9% from the Argentine Catholic University studies.
The government of Nestor Kirchner in 2007 intervened Indec which until then was considered a very professional institution, serious and reliable, and converted it in a nest of political cronies with the purpose of adapting the stats to favour government policy.
Now Indec is now less reliable than its similar organization in Byelorussia and its conclusions have even been publicly questioned by the IMF.
The purpose of Kirchner was to lower inflation (less than half the real index) so the government would pay less interest on the sovereign bonds tied to inflation and at the same time help to hide poverty.
That explains, according to Indec that in 2011 the poverty index was 6.7% and the level of indigence, 1.7%.
Reality however indicates that poverty in Argentina is far more extended. Yes it was brought down from over 50% in 2001/02 to 30/33% of the population but remains stagnant at that level despite of the commodities boom and the sustained expansion of the economy.