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Social Panorama of Latin America 2000-2001, prepared by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), reveals that the wealthiest 10 per cent of the region’s households captures a share of total income that averages 19 times higher than the amount received by the poorest 40 per cent of all households. Analyzing trends in income distribution, ECLAC concludes that “in most countries, this situation did not improve significantly and in some cases it even worsened during the 1990s, despite the relative recovery of economic growth and higher social spending.” Income distribution in Latin America stands out in the international context because of the large amount of total earnings received by the wealthiest 10 per cent of the population, according to ECLAC. Except for Costa Rica and Uruguay, statistics from countries of the region indicate that the richest tenth of all households appropriates over 30 per cent of income, with this figure running as high as 45 per cent in Brazil. The report does point to some positive developments, saying ECLAC has found it “encouraging” that some Central American countries have progressed – to different degrees – in terms of income distribution in urban areas. The report attributes this trend to the region’s greater economic stability, reduced demographic pressures and an increase in remittances from nationals living abroad. read more