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6 figures that show the great impact of the pandemic in Latin America (and 2 good news despite the crisis)






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One in four people in Latin America has not been able to regain the job they had before the pandemic.

And about half of all households have not managed to bring their total income back to the pre-pandemic level, despite the fiscal aid that has been given to the most vulnerable families, according to a joint investigation by the World Bank and the United Nations Program to Development (UNDP).

Although many of the region’s economies have started to reactivate after one of the worst crises in recent decades, Latin America has still not managed to return to the situation in which it lived in 2019.

Now that many of the tax breaks are coming to an end and an inflationary wave grows strongly that travels the world, families try to get ahead with the alternatives they have at hand.

“The covid-19 pandemic evidenced the pre-existing inequalities in the region, where the most vulnerable groups and the poorest have been disproportionately affected,” said Luis Felipe López-Calva, UNDP regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Here are 6 figures that show the impact of the crisis and two encouraging data amid the slow economic and social recovery in Latin America.

1. Employment

This is one of the most sensitive topics for families. Occupancy is still below pre-pandemic levels, but most disturbing is that the quality of available work has worsened.

27% of those who had a job before the pandemic are without work, according to data collected through telephone surveys carried out by international organizations until June of this year.

By country, the most critical cases are those of Haiti, Colombia and Panama.



Job .  [ 27% de las personas que tenían empleo antes de la pandemia no han logrado recuperarlo. ], Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:


© Provided by BBC News World
Job . [ 27% de las personas que tenían empleo antes de la pandemia no han logrado recuperarlo. ], Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:

2. Informal work

When comparing the situation that existed before the pandemic with what is happening today, employment decreased, informal work increased, and average weekly working hours decreased.

Many have left the workforce entirely and more than half of those who work are informally employed.



Informal employment. [ 53% de la población tiene un trabajo informal. Antes de la pandemia era un 48% ] , Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:


© Provided by BBC News World
Informal employment. [ 53% de la población tiene un trabajo informal. Antes de la pandemia era un 48% ] , Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:

3. Income

About half of the households still do not recover the full income level they had before the pandemic. 48% of families report that they have had a reduction in their income during this crisis.

The most affected countries are Haiti, Colombia and Ecuador, while Argentina, El Salvador and Honduras have managed to get closer to the situation they had in 2019 with greater speed.



Income. [ 48% de la spersonas no ha logrado recuperar su nivel de ingresos previo a la pandemia. ] , Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:


© Provided by BBC News World
Income. [ 48% de la spersonas no ha logrado recuperar su nivel de ingresos previo a la pandemia. ] , Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:

4. Food insecurity

During the pandemic, food insecurity it practically doubled. 24% of households were left without food due to lack of money.

And countries with the highest levels of inequality and poverty before the pandemic were the hardest hit by food shortages.



Hunger. [ 24% de los hogares se quedó sin comida debido a la falta de dinero. ] , Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:


© Provided by BBC News World
Hunger. [ 24% de los hogares se quedó sin comida debido a la falta de dinero. ] , Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:

5. Education

Most of the region’s children participate in some type of educational activity, although the percentage varies substantially from country to country.

Countries like Chile and Peru have the highest levels of school participation, while Guyana, Guatemala and Belize are at the opposite extreme.

More than a year after the start of the pandemic, only a quarter of the students in the region attend school in person.

The countries where they least attend in person are Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Mexico.



Education [ 23% de los niños asiste presencialmente a clases. ] , Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:


© Provided by BBC News World
Education [ 23% de los niños asiste presencialmente a clases. ] , Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:

6. Gap between men and women

Comparing people who had a job before the pandemic and who now do not have it, 18% of men have been affected by this situation, while 39% of women suffer from this aftermath of the crisis.

That is why researchers conclude that women are more than twice as likely as men to have lost their job. Worse yet: more than half left the workforce entirely.

The reasons? Mainly the care of others in the house and the unpaid domestic work.



Unemployment in women. [ 39% de las mujeres quetenían empleo antes de la pandemia quedó sin trabajo. ] , Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:


© Provided by BBC News World
Unemployment in women. [ 39% de las mujeres quetenían empleo antes de la pandemia quedó sin trabajo. ] , Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:

Two more encouraging news

Although the general outlook is usually quite bleak, there are at least two sectors where the traces of the pandemic have been less severe.

The access to health services it was reestablished in most countries. In fact, the percentage of households where one of its members could not access health services only reaches 3.5%, according to the responses of those surveyed.



Improved access to health. [ solo 3,5% es el porcentaje de hogares donde uno de sus miembros no pudo acceder a servicios de salud. ] , Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:


© Provided by BBC News World
Improved access to health. [ solo 3,5% es el porcentaje de hogares donde uno de sus miembros no pudo acceder a servicios de salud. ] , Source: Source: World Bank-UNDP, Image:

This does not refer to the quality of the service received, but it is data that allows us to compare the level of access to health, which during the pandemic came to collapse in some cities and countries where many people lost their lives waiting for medical attention.

And one of the positive effects highlighted by the study researchers is that there was a large increase in the use of digital services and transactions since the beginning of the pandemic.

52% of those surveyed recognized an increase in the use of applications or web pages for transactions, while 49% indicated that they used more mobile banking.

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