Poverty in Colombia

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Informal brick housing.

Poverty in Colombia refers to the serious problem of misdistribution of income, characterized by some of the worst poverty statistics in Latin America.[citation needed]

Social strata in Colombia[edit]

Colombia has one of the strictest stratified social systems in the world.

Colombia's social strata has been divided as follows and has 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 : Lowest income.
  • Stratum 2 : Low-Middle class.
  • Stratum 3 : Middle class.
  • Stratum 4 : Upper middle class.
  • Stratum 5 : Upper class.
  • Stratum 6 : Wealthy. Only the 5% of Colombians fit this category.

The system classifies areas on a scale from 1 to 6 with 1 as the lowest income area and 6 as the highest. 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.[1] Critics of the system say that 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.[1]

Poverty statistics[edit]

The World Bank estimates that in 2011 34% of the Colombian population was living below the poverty line, down from 45% in 2005.[2]


The unemployment in Colombia in the summer of 2013 was estimated at 9.2%, the lowest in over a decade.[3]


According to the World Bank, Colombia's Gini coefficient (a measurement of inequality in wealth distribution) was 0.587 in 2000 and 0.559 in 2010, ranking alongside Brazil and Bolivia as the most unequal Latin American countries in terms of wealth distribution.[4]

Related issues[edit]


The current index of illiteracy in the country is 7.6%, with areas such as Chocó Department and Sucre Department having a 16% level.[citation needed] .[citation needed] Probable causes are the Colombian armed conflict and the insufficiency of funds destined for education in Colombia.[citation needed] The current literacy rate for the nation stands at 92%.


Over 500 000 children under 6 years old (about 13%) in Colombia suffer from acute malnutrition and up to 15% suffer from chronic malnutrition, the most affected areas being Boyacá and Nariño Department.[5]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]