Many countries have enacted, or attempted to pass legislation supporting the rights of indigenous peoples, and, countries have directed greater shares of national resources towards education, health and poverty-reduction programs. In parallel, Latin American countries have led efforts to improve the targeting of these programs to more effectively reach poor people, and through decentralization, are transferring greater shares of public expenditures to state and local control. The report covers the five countries in Latin America with the largest indigenous populations, which include Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru. The purpose of this report is to answer whether changes on the national and international front have been accompanied by actual improvements in material conditions among indigenous people, presenting a regional picture of the evolution of socio-economic conditions among indigenous people in Latin America over the past decade. The report argues on whether poverty rates decreased among indigenous populations, and if so, how does this compare to changes observed in poverty rates for the rest of the population. It focuses on the main human capital indicators (education and health outcomes) as it concerns improvements, or not, over the period for indigenous and non-indigenous groups, and what are the factors explaining those trends. Furthermore, it stipulates income (and therefore, income poverty) is to a large extent determined by human capital, and, questions how have the income returns to human capital changed for indigenous, and non-indigenous people, and, how does access to major social and poverty reduction programs differ between indigenous and non-indigenous people. This report also adds a more complete picture of the human development issues, expected to play a fundamental role in poverty reduction over the medium to long-term. This report defines poverty in quantitative and material terms, and it is both strengthened and handicapped by that approach. The strength of the approach is that it is expressed in terms familiar to national, and international policymakers-and as such can hope to have a direct impact on the decisions taken, which in turn, vastly affect the lives of indigenous peoples. Indigenous people do describe poor education, malnutrition and bad health, unemployment, discrimination and other subjects that this report addresses as constitutive of "poverty." But they also consider themselves to be rich from a set of cultural, and spiritual traditions, that larger societies generally may emphasize less. Those elements are little captured in this report. By assessing poverty in quantifiable terms, the report presents what can be measured about the lives of indigenous people today, yet recognizes that this approach is limited from reflecting all the needs and values of Latin America's indigenous peoples.
Published: World Bank Publications on
ISBN: 9780821367537
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