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Latin America: Where from here? The Latin American middle classes facing stagnation - by L.Paramio, C.Güemes, and F..Badia

 What will be the effect of the economic slowdown in trust in institutions and political behaviour of Latin American emerging middle classes, after 10 years of “leftist” governments?

According to CEPAL (Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) calculations, between 1990 and 2010 the middle classes in the region increased by nearly 70 million households. In recent years social policies have been characterised by a targeting of lower income groups and public policy priority has been the expansion of primary education, with the goal of achieving universal reach.

Given that the middle classes are characterised by their efforts to consolidate their social status and not only their income level, it can be assumed that access to education is central to their family plans. However, access to primary education, which has been a key factor in many cases to escape from poverty and to lead therefore to the so-called emerging middle classes, may be insufficient if the access to quality secondary education and higher education for the youth of these new middle classes is not guaranteed.

The hypothesis is that the numerical growth of the new (emerging) middle classes will pose new demands for public policies both to expand access to quality secondary and higher education, and to introduce social policies that benefit not only the poorest groups, but also these emerging groups.

The aim of this is to prevent the new middle class losing purchasing power. By moving from the lower-income bracket to the middle class, they no longer to receive the cash transfers attendant in the prior targeted policies, and as a result, it is important to develop universal welfare policies or design strategies that include support for these groups; otherwise, they will be unable to maintain and consolidate their new status and their becoming middle class, beyond a symbolic conquest, will entail instead a waste of money and increased costs for families.

Through a comparative study of several national cases, we have sought to determine (1) the problems that the emerging middle classes face in consolidating their status, (2) the limits in this regard of current public policies, and (3) conflicts which may give rise to claims of these social groups.

To dead more click here: Where from here? The Latin American middle classes facing stagnation | openDemocracy

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