Poverty in Colombia

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Informal brick housing.
District with excellent public services

Poverty statistics[edit]

Colombian poverty rates, 2002–2016.Income-Based Poverty, Extreme Income-Based Poverty, and Multidimensional Poverty[1]

In 2017, the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) reported that 26.9% of the population were living below the poverty line, of which 7.4% in "extreme poverty". The multidimensional poverty rate stands at 17.0% of the population.[2]


The average national unemployment rate in 2017 was 9.4%,[3] although the informality is the biggest problem facing the labour market (the income of formal workers climbed 24.8% in 5 years while labor incomes of informal workers rose only 9%).[4]


According to the World Bank, Colombia's Gini coefficient (a measurement of inequality in wealth distribution) was 0.587 in 2000 and 0.535 in 2013, ranking alongside Chile, Panama, Brazil and Honduras as the most unequal Latin American countries in terms of wealth distribution.[5]

Related issues[edit]


In 2015, a total of 94.58% of the population aged 15 and older were recorded as literate, including 98.53% of those aged 15–24.[6]


In 2010, 3.4% of the children under 5 years old in Colombia suffer from global malnutrition (deficiency of weight for age) and up to 13% suffer from chronic malnutrition (deficiency of height for age). The situation is worse for the indigenous peoples of Colombia, who in the same indicators recorded rates of 7.5% and 29.5% respectively.[7]

Social strata in Colombia[edit]

Colombia's social strata have been divided as follows and have been extensively used by the government as a reference to develop social welfare programs, statistical information and to some degree for the assignment of lands.

Stratum 1 The system is the classification of the residential properties that should receive public services.[8]

The system does not consider the income per person.[9]

Stratum 2
Stratum 3
Stratum 4
Stratum 5
Stratum 6

The system is the classification of the residential properties that should receive public services.[8] Although the system does not consider the income per person and the rules say that the residential real estate should stratify and not households.[9] All mayors should do the stratification of residential properties of their municipality or district.[8]

In 1994, this stratification policy was made into law in order to grant subsidies to the poorest residents. The system is organized so that the people living in upper layers (strata 5 and 6) pay more for services like electricity, water and sewage than the groups in the lower strata.[10] Critics of the system say that it impedes social mobility through stigmatization, while its proponents argue that it allows the poor to locate to areas where they will be able to access subsidized services.[10] There are many studies that have shown that the socio-economic stratum is a bad instrument to allocate subsidies.[11][12][13] In particular, these studies show that there is a high percentage of households of strata 1 and 2 which have a level of consumption similar to the households of strata 5 and 6 (18% of households in stratum 1, 36% of households in 2 and 66% of households in stratum 3 are located in quintiles 4 and 5 of the distribution of consumption. 98% of households in stratum 6 is in these quintiles).[14]

Although nowadays there are more reliable sources to determine capacity to pay.

  • The first is the tax information, where each inhabitant income are reported. In the current model, there are people who live in areas with low strata but who receive high income.[15][16]
  • The second proposal are the surveys related to the policy of subsidies, such as the SISBEN; a strategy that works through home visits, who value the ability to pay of the inhabitants.[15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ goo.gl/Vs8gki
  2. ^ "socio-economic policies" (PDF). dane.gov.co. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Colombia Unemployment Rate" (PDF). dane.gov.co. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Incomes of informal workers grow less" (in Spanish). portafolio.co. Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Gini Index". World Bank. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  6. ^ "UNESCO Institute for Statistics Colombia Profile". Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  7. ^ "ENSIN – Encuesta Nacional de Situación Nutricional en Colombia" (PDF). Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ a b c CONGRESO DE COLOMBIA. Ley 142 de 1994 (julio 11), artículo 102.
  9. ^ a b "Preguntas_frecuentes_estratificación" (PDF). dane.gov.co.
  10. ^ a b http://www.ifhp.org/ifhp-blog/colombia-social-stratification-law[dead link]
  11. ^ LUCÍA MINA ROSER. "Estratificación socioeconómica como instrumento de focalización" (PDF).[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Carlos Medina, Leonardo Fabio Morales. "Demanda por Servicios Públicos Domiciliarios en Colombia y Subsidios: Implicaciones sobre el Bienestar" (PDF).[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ UN. ECLAC. Office in Bogotá (15 December 2006). La Estratificación Socioeconómica para el Cobro de los Servicios Públicos Domiciliarios en Colombia: ¿Solidaridad o Focalización?. ISBN 9789213229682.
  14. ^ "Estratos socioeconómicos: Sobre sus usos, abusos y eliminación". lasillavacia.com. 18 December 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Identificar la incidencia de la estratificación socioeconómica urbana sobre la segregación de los hogares bogotanos" (PDF). Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Sede Bogotá – Facultad de Ciencias Económicas.
  16. ^ a b "Estratos están mandados a recoger, dice estudio de esta universidad". civico.com.

External links[edit]