The Inequality Crisis: Latin America and the Caribbean at the Crossroads

The societies of Latin America and the Caribbean had been practicing social distancing long before the coronavirus pandemic moved in to test their resilience and expose their vulnerabilities. This is the social distancing caused  by  extreme  inequality  in  the  region,  which  saps  citizens’  faith  in the common good and widens the gap between rich and poor. In terms of income, Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the most unequal regions in the world. The richest tenth of the population captures 22 times more of the national income than the bottom tenth. The richest 1 percent takes in 21 percent of the income of the entire economy—double the  average  in  the  industrialized  world.  Moreover,  stark  income  gaps represent only one of several forms of inequality that undermine social cohesion and the sense of belonging to something greater than oneself. Sex, race and ethnicity, like income, are powerful determinants of access to healthcare, education, employment and the legal system.