Poverty in Argentina rose to 35.4% of the population in the first half of the year, the highest officially recorded level since 2001, the INDEC national statistics bureau reported today. This means that some 15.8 million Argentines are now considered poor, INDEC's data indicates. At the end of 2018, 32% of Argentines were said to be living in poverty.
Some of Argentina's youngest are among those hit the hardest. In the first half of 2019, poverty among those aged under 15 reached 52.6%. Among those aged 15 to 29, the level drops to 42.3%. For those aged between 30 and 64, the index touches 30.4%, while among the retired (those over 65), poverty affects 10.4% of individuals.
The data, however, does not include the most recent devaluation of the peso in August, when the Argentine currency dropped in value by 20% against the dollar, in the wake of the results of the PASO primaries. Data showing that shift is expected to be released in March 2020.
In other words the new data means that 3.25 million people have slipped into poverty over the last 12 months, with the figure rising 8.1 percentage points in just a year.
Those said to be living in extreme poverty – i.e. those who cannot meet their minimum needs – has increased from 6.7% to 7.7% over the last six months. One year ago, the figure stood at just 4.9%.
President Mauricio Macri, who is campaigning for re-election in the upcoming October 27 general elections, had anticipated the disappointing numbers earlier in the day, admitting that unfortunately [the data] will reflect the situation we are living in.
Although it hurts, we must look ahead, he added.
Alberto Fernández, the opposition Frente de Todos presidential candidate, criticized the numbers, saying that during Macri's tenure the only thing generated is the poor.
Health and Social Development Minister Carolina Stanley said the government was focused on reducing inflation.
Reducing inflation is a key factor that we have ahead of us, said the national official, flanked at a press conference by Production and Labour Minister Dante Sica. But Stanley admitted the Macri administration was constantly working to help the nation's poorest. The results are not what we expected, she admitted.
For his part, Sica said that the government carries out daily self-criticism, adding that officials were trying to correct mistakes and overcome them.
Projecting the population out to the national population, INDEC's data shows that 14.4 million individuals living in urban populations are poor, a rise from 11.15 million a year ago.
In Greater Buenos Aires nearly 4 in 10 are considered poor, with the index reaching 39.8%, while in Buenos Aires City, poverty affects 14.3%.
In the cities of Concordia, Santiago del Estero, Corrientes and Gran Resistencia poverty affects more than 40% of the population, the INDEC agency revealed.
Expanding the projection out to include the rural population reveals that 15.8 million Argentines are living in poverty.
Despite the impact of the numbers, a full comparison with previous Argentine governments is not possible given mostly methodology discrepancies, but with the twelve years of the Kirchners, poverty stats are simply non-reliable: at one point Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner argued that poverty in Argentina was lower than that of Germany.