Inequality: starting from the figures, but not staying in them
In recent years, inequality has positioned itself as a public problem in the country. Its solution is seen as a collective work involving the State, private enterprise and civil society. Last week, following a study by Bloomberg, the public debate focused on how unequal we are or are not compared to 53 other countries in the world.
Initially, the report noted that, in Peru, 1% of the country’s wage earners earned 42% of total income. This figure was corrected a day later, noting that the correct figure was 23.7%, according to the official database.
Beyond numbers and decimals, this figure is also high. The pandemic has shown that the economic growth that has accompanied the country in the last three decades is not enough to guarantee the integral development of the population. Although the indicators of poverty and inequality have decreased in this time, the health crisis and the measures applied (such as confinement) have shown that longer-term bets are required to combat inequality.
To date, informality, unemployment and poverty, which UNDP estimates went from 20.2% in 2019 to 30.3% in 2020, have increased. This has contracted household spending and had an impact on spending. In particular, children and adolescents have been more affected. According to the aforementioned study, more than 1,200,000 children will fall into poverty due to the pandemic, especially those who belong to families in rural areas.
The first years of life are vital in human development. As recommended by UNDP and other studies, the State should strengthen its social policies. Informality and the absence of information make an orderly intervention difficult. Therefore, in the short term, there should be up-to-date records that identify potential families with children under 18 who may be beneficiaries of bonuses or other containment measures. Likewise, the State must strengthen social protection policies either through social programs currently in force or new care policies, which can be useful in critical situations such as those we are experiencing.
Thinking about how we intervene in an articulated way is the only way to leave the debate of how unequal we are and move towards how equal we want to be.