Guatemala’s poverty statistics compared to the region


Rates of poverty and extreme poverty in Guatemala have both been increasing, while the rates of most other countries in the region are decreasing.. The chart below from ECLAC’s 2015 Social Panorama report also shows that the poor are getting poorer in Guatemala, while in most other countries in the region this is not the case either.

The chart measures poverty and indigence, or extreme poverty. Its two “poverty headcount ratios,” are approximations of the poverty rate. ECLAC considers “indigence” the inability to meet basic nutritional needs, while “poverty” is defined as the inability to meet “basic non-nutritional needs.”

The “poverty gap” figures in the chart show how far away the poor are on average from the poverty line. The poverty gap figure for Guatemala in 2014, for example, is 33.1%, meaning that poor households on average made it to 66.9% of poverty line income.

The poverty figures are based on ECLAC calculations designed to facilitate international comparisons. The independent calculations of each nation are in the next section. Guatemala’s official data (blow) show similar poverty rate data, but differ on the data for extreme poverty.

First, Guatemala’s figures and Latin America’s regional averages according to ECLAC:

Guatemala’s rates of poverty and extreme poverty are around three times Latin America’s averages. Further, Latin America’s poverty rate has been cut by approximately 35% and its extreme poverty rate has been cut by approximately 40%, while Guatemala’s rates have climbed.

Below are those figures compared to other countries in the region. The comparison shows that Guatemala is one of the only countries where poverty is increasing. (The others are Paraguay, Venezuela, and neighbors El Salvador and Honduras, but Guatemala’s rates appear to be increasing most rapidly.)

Here are the Guatemalan government’s official figures. Indigence is again defined as the inability to access basic nutrition, as estimated by the “canasta básica,” a measure of the cost of the food necessary to provide basic nutrition. Poverty is defined as the inability to meet access basic household needs, like spending on school fees, clothing, and transport.

(For more on these measures and rising food costs, see Guatemala in Graphs: Inequality.)

Here are again is the ECLAC data:

The two charts agree on the poverty rate, and that rates of poverty and extreme poverty are increasing, but Guatemalan government statistics put the rate of extreme poverty at 23.4% instead of the 38 – 46% figures offered by ECLAC.

The urban/rural divide and its racial dimension is discussed further in Guatemala in Graphs: Inequality.

Below is the complete graph that compares 18 countries in Latin America.