How Much Income Does the 1% Hold in LatAm?

There's no way to sugarcoat it: the pandemic has only worsened the problem of global economic inequality. And perhaps nowhere is this more true than Latin America, which has been named the most unequal region in the world by, among others, the United Nations and IMF.

But while it's not breaking news that global crises further inequalities and concentrate more wealth in the hands of the rich, it may surprise you to learn where this is most the case.

By Latinometrics

Pre-tax national income share held by the top 1%

Latin American Countries vs. Other Countries

Source: WID.world

WID figures show that many Latin American countries are more unequal than the global average.

The Dominican Republic, Peru, and Mexico are all among the most unequal countries in the world by WID figures, with the top 1% of each country earning between 25-30% of the country's total income. The three countries rank only behind Mozambique and the Central African Republic by this metric.

The problem is far deeper throughout the region. Brazil and Chile both occupy painfully high spots as well, with around 22% of each country's wealth being held by the countries' richest citizens. This places these two major economies somewhere between Russia and a number of Gulf states that are either run by royal families or engulfed in civil war.

There are some expected results… and some surprises. Uruguay, which has emerged in recent years as Latin America's success story, is the region's most equitable society. That makes sense.

But El Salvador falls far below its neighbors in terms of the share of wealth held by its richest citizens - a rare bit of good news.

Click on any of the countries above to see how inequality has changed over time.

Income share held by the top 1%, over time

Click on a country above

Source: WID.world

Here at Latinometrics, we're all about giving flowers to the countries and people growing Latin America, whether that be in Colombia or the Dominican Republic. But growth must include all people, not just the very richest. It can be a challenge to ensure development is sustainable and widespread - just ask recently-elected presidents like Gabriel Boric and Lula da Silva - but the only way the region will grow well is if everyone's wealth grows with it.