During the second semester of 2022, 39.2% of Argentines were below the poverty line and 8.1% were below the destitution threshold, according to a report the National Institute for Statistics and Census (INDEC) published today.
The figures represent a 3.3% increase in poverty compared to the first semester of 2022, and a 0.7% increase in destitution numbers.
While Argentines were becoming poorer in 2022, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) surged by 5.2%, according to the INDEC. This is the first recorded semester where both poverty and GDP surged since 2016, when the INDEC first started the current series of the “Permanent Household Survey (EPH),” its method of measuring poverty.
The INDEC considers that a family is “destitute” when their monthly income is less than the basic food basket. A family is considered to be in poverty if they earn less than the basic food basket plus services, known as the total basic basket. The INDEC also revealed that, in the second semester of 2022, the basic food basket surged by 43.5% in 2022 while the average family income did so by 37.3%.
The areas in the country where the poverty index was the highest were the North East and the North West, with 43.6% and 43.1% respectively. Conversely, Patagonia and the Pampa region had the lowest numbers, with 34.7% and 36.3% respectively.
The report also found that 54.2% of children aged 0 to 14 were poor and 12% were destitute.
In the last 30 years, poverty in Argentina has never been lower than 25%. However, the combination of a surge in both poverty and economic growth is relatively new.
According to the Argentine Centre of Political Economy (CEPA), the increase in poverty was mainly caused by a surge in food prices, and a decrease in the purchasing power of welfare programs such as the Universal Instalment per Child (AUH) and the Food Card (Tarjeta Alimentar), also due to inflation.
During the second semester of 2022, unemployment plummeted to 6.3%, its lowest level since 2015. However, the purchasing power of registered salaries also dropped, according to the CEPA. In December 2022, the median registered salary only covered 93.1% of the total basic basket.
The CEPA report names this phenomenon “poor registered workers” – active registered workers whose income is lower than the total basic basket.