Child poverty is a global problem and is also a relative one. Calculations like the ones illustrated in the graph below are made with reference to the population of each country. So the OECD data shown here use a threshold of 50% below the median income for a given country. That is, if your family earns half the average salary you are deemed to be living in poverty and therefore are likely to suffer a disadvantage relative to your fellow citizens in terms of being unable to access many of the basic needs that you will have. Chile is no exception to this and in fact Chilean children are highly likely (22%) to be living in poverty, when compared with some of the highest rates in the world.
Source: OECD (2011), OECD Family Database, OECD, Paris. Data show the 19/41 highest poverty rates given.
Relative poverty, of course, is not the full story. Absolute child poverty may mean that the level of deprivation in one country (e.g. the UK) will be significantly less adverse than that in another country (e.g. Chile). These differences can be quantified to some extent of course, but it is perhaps the qualitative differences that are sometimes most illustrative. The documentary There Will Be No Harvest This Year by Fernando Lavanderos & Gonzalo Vergara shows the reality of some of the young people, at least, who live on the streets of Santiago. Although it is not clear how representative the kids in the documentary are of Chile as a whole, it is certainly hard-hitting stuff and gives pause for thought. What are your views? Should the Chilean government be doing more to intervene here? Or is it up to individuals and families to pull themselves out of poverty? Will general economic policies trickle down to alleviate child poverty or are more targeted policies needed? Comment below.
“There Will Be No Harvest This Year” involves the daily life of a group of kids who live on the streets. Through the protagonists’ stories and experiences, we come to discover Latin American’s hidden marginalization within a neoliberal city such as Santiago, Chile. The camera becomes one more person who shares in the family life that is born of the close friendships these kids have built to survive.