Poverty in Argentina hits 57%, highest number in 20 years, report says

The UCA Social Debt Observatory found poverty went up by 8 percentage points in January

Argentina’s poverty rate reached 57.4% in January according to a new report by the Argentine Catholic University’s respected Social Debt Observatory. It’s the highest poverty number since 2004, when the observatory began publishing reports, amid widespread economic deregulation and price hikes.

“Our perspective is that this will keep getting worse in February,” the observatory’s Director Agustín Salvia told the Herald. “The crisis is about to explode in systemic terms.”

According to the report, which analyzed the inflationary effects of the 54% Argentine peso devaluation in December, poverty rose from 44.7% in the third quarter of 2023 to 49.5% in December, then 57.4% in January.

Salvia said there is “a generalized impoverishment of Argentine society” as a result of “a decrease in real salaries” as well as “a high risk of losing jobs” and the devaluation of the peso. “Households can’t compensate the effects of inflation on the food basket with working more hours, like they did in 2023.”

“The working class and middle class who don’t receive any welfare suffered the biggest increase [in poverty levels],” the report said.

The observatory also found that 15% of Argentines are destitute — the highest level since 2005. Destitution numbers had been 9.6% in the third quarter of 2023 and 14.2% in December, and went up even more in January “due to the increase in the cost of the basic food basket.”

The National Institute for Statistics and Census (INDEC by its Spanish acronym) considers a family “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.

Source: Argentine Catholic University’s Social Debt Observatory

You may also be interested in: Argentina starts 2024 with a 20.6% monthly inflation rate

“The December 2023 devaluation led to a strong price increase at a general level, and therefore, [an increase of] the basic food basket and the total basic basket,” the document stated.

The report added that while the government increased pensions and social plans in an attempt to absorb the effects of the record-high inflation “the poverty and destitution levels significantly rose.”

Argentina’s monthly inflation rate reached 25.5% in December 2023, the highest since February 1991, according to the National Institute for Statistics and Census (INDEC, for its Spanish acronym). In January, it went down to 20.6%, marking a 254.4% year-on-year inflation.

Within the past two months, gasoline prices more than doubled, private healthcare medicine applied 80% increases, and bus and train fares rose by 251% and 169% respectively. More tariff and price jumps are expected in the upcoming months. 

Meanwhile, discussions to increase Argentina’s minimum wage and unemployment benefits fell through on Thursday while social movements protested outside the Labor Ministry. The minimum wage, which defines who receives certain social benefits, currently sits at AR$156,000 a month while the total basic basket for a single adult reached AR$193,000 in January, according to INDEC’s latest report.

You may also be interested in: Government halts transport subsidies, discretionary funds to provinces


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald