Extreme Poverty, Female Labor, and Remesas
Welcome to Latinometrics. We bring you Latin American insights and trends through concise, thought-provoking data visualizations.
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This week we’re mixing it up with a vintage edition of Latinometrics, highlighting top charts from our early days. Over the past year and a half, we’ve created 230+ original charts, but there are many stories still worth talking about to this day — and that might not have had the chance to grace your inbox.
Extreme poverty in LatAm is being eradicated — November 2021
Female participation in the workforce — September 2022
Remittances (remesas) as % of GDP — January 2022
Make sure you check out the comment of the week at the bottom!
The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living under $1.90 per day. In the past 30 years, Latin American countries have seen the share of their citizens living in extreme poverty decline from 14% to 3.75% of the total population.
Even though world organizations continue to categorize all LatAm countries as developing, it is undeniable that the quality of life of the poorest has been positively transformed in the last few decades, in some cases even to a larger degree than developed nations.
For example, as of 2019, Chile had only 0.28% of its population living under extreme poverty, well below countries like Sweden, Australia, and the USA. Speaking of Chile, Santiago is nicknamed the ‘Chilecon Valley,’ and it’s the continent’s top country for entrepreneurship.
Editor’s note: This chart is from our very first edition of Latinometrics, back in November 2021. It’s agruably the one that “started it all,” as our first chart to go viral on Reddit.
Labor Market 👷🏻♀️
Intuitively, we might expect that as countries become more developed, they also become more socially mature and welcoming of women's participation in the labor market. That trend is accurate, to some extent. Based on that correlation, we would predict wealthy nations to have the highest participation of females in the workforce, but that is not the case.
South Sudan, which has 80% of its population living in extreme poverty (highest in the world), has a higher share of female participation in the workforce than the world's most prosperous nations like Switzerland and Norway.
You don't have to go as far as Africa and Europe to find a dichotomy — there are also stark contrasts within Latin America. Consider Venezuela and Bolivia: both have a Human Development Index of 0.69, and yet, in Venezuela, 34% of females participate in the workforce, while 68% (double) of them do so in Bolivia.
What do these extremes tell us about the female labor force? Although the metric displays a trend partly explained by countries' development, it's ultimately strongly influenced by their culture and values. Author William MacAskill talks about how the entrenchment of cultural values in societies are highly influential drivers of the world's outcomes in his book, 'What We Owe the Future,' which inspired this chart.
Remittances or “remesas” are payments sent from people earning an income abroad back to their home country. There’s an admirable quality to the act of sending remittances. These payments are often sent from hardworking people in the US to support their communities and families.
You’ll notice a trend in this chart: for the most part, countries farther south from the US receive a lower share of remittances in terms of their GDP. In fact, 24% of El Salvador’s economy consists of remittance payments.
The most notable exception to the trend is Mexico. Despite receiving an astronomical $42.9 billion in 2020 and being the closest neighbor to the US, it receives remittances that account for only 4% of its GDP. That’s because the country has a diverse economy that pulls its weight through industries like manufacturing, petroleum, and tourism.
All combined, the countries on the chart received a total of almost $100B in 2020. For 2021, the World Bank reported a 21.6% increase in the region.
Editor’s note: In 2022, the World Bank reported a 9.3% increase in the region, in line with a larger economic slowdown, given the growth was less than half of 2021’s.
Quick Survey 🗳️
Looking back at our old stories made us realize how much shorter they used to be, should we go back to that?
That’s all for this week 👋
The comment of the week was a link to an article about the use of pesticides in Costa Rica, in response to our chart about the country’s explosive pineapple production on LinkedIn.
A key quote from the article:
Despite the recognized fact of the risks that the use of synthetic chemical substances pose to health and the environment, their number, far from diminishing, is increasing. … Costa Rica imports 12 million kilograms of active ingredients annually.
Feedback, chart suggestions, or thoughts on this vintage edition? Reply to this email, and let us know. 😁