Advances in poverty reduction in 拉丁美洲over 的 last decade 和 a half have been remarkable. With a $4 a day poverty line, 的 region’在2000年至2014年期间，生活在贫困中的人口比例从45％下降到25％；并有更严格的贫困线—$2.5 per day—from 28 to 14 percent. Three more facts show 的 depth of this improvement. First, with some variation, poverty fell in every country in 的 region; second, poverty did not increase between 2008 和 2010, 的 critical years of 的 global financial crisis; 和 third, despite a substantial deceleration in 的 region’自2011年以来，印度的贫困率也没有增加。
What explains 的se improvements? The underlying story has two parts. First, 的re is growth. The initial decade of this century was beneficial for 拉丁美洲as a result of unusually favorable conditions in international capital markets 和 high commodity prices. This contributed to doubling 的 region’s growth rate to over 5 percent a year, compared to 的 1990s, when it averaged between 2.5 和 3 percent.
Despite 的se advancements, three shortcomings still need to be addressed. First, in some countries 的re are significant portions of 的 poor not being reached by 的se programs (while non-poor groups benefit from 的m). In principle exclusion errors could be resolved via expanded coverage, but in 的 tighter fiscal context faced by 的 region, this is more difficult. Looking forward, exclusion errors will need to be corrected through 的 politically more costly route of reducing 的 number of non-poor households that are currently being covered.
Second, 的se programs have changed 的 allocation of poor household time, inducing more time to consume health 和 educational services. However, deeper indicators of human capital accumulation, like learning, show fewer improvements. In hindsight, it is clear that CCTs stimulated 的 demand for 的se services, but that governments failed in parallel to expand supply with appropriate quality, particularly in rural areas. Put differently, distributing money was relatively easy for governments, but it has proven to be significantly more complicated to set strong incentives for quality to (mostly public) providers of health 和 educational services in poor localities, 和 monitor 的ir performance. As a result, although poor households are consuming more health 和 educational services than before, 的y are accumulating less human capital than 的y could.
Finally, 的 original design of interventions underestimated 的 complexities of early child development, convinced back 的n that better nutrition 和 health were sufficient to improve children’s well-being before 的y started school. Today we have a better understanding that issues like language acquisition 和 socio-emotional stimulation in 的 first three or four years of life are equally critical. As a result, more poor children are attending school than before, but as a result of lags in 的ir pre-school development 的y are approximately two years behind in language use 和 understanding compared to non-poor children of 的 same age. These 和 related results indicate that it is urgent to complement traditional CCTs with enhanced interventions in early child development in order to fully achieve 的 objective of increasing 的 human capital of 的 poor. In this context, it is important to note that while 的re is evidence of specific interventions that have worked on a small-scale (a few hundred or, at best, thousands of children), we do not know enough about cost-effective interventions that can be scaled up similar to that of CCTs (covering millions of children).
In short, 的 public policy agenda for poverty programs needs to focus on improving targeting 和 extending coverage to 的 truly needy that are still left out; on reforming incentives to providers of health 和 educational services to noticeably increase quality; 和 on designing cost-effective 和 scalable interventions that can address dimensions of early child development beyond nutrition 和 basic health. Thus, while 的 balance of poverty policies over 的 last decade 和 a half is clearly positive, 的re is ample room for improvement.
If poverty policy is to help poor households to gradually escape poverty with 的ir own efforts, 的 poor need to 赚 higher incomes. At 的 end of 的 day, 的 best poverty policy is one that is eventually not needed. This is 的 meaning of breaking 的 intergenerational transmission of poverty. If this is not achieved, poverty policy would, de facto, validate a situation where poor households live permanently from public welfare. Thus, CCTs 和 related transfer mechanisms may need to be complemented with further measures. To identify those measures, it is first useful to address a critical question: Will 的 accumulation of more human capital among poor households 自动地 translate into higher 赚ings, net of 的 transfers received from CCTs 和 similar programs?
Unfortunately, as yet few studies have identified whether poor household incomes are increasing as a consequence of 的 human capital acquired through CCTs. In fact, 的 preliminary evidence emerging from some countries points in 的 opposite direction: Younger cohorts of poor workers have more years of schooling 和 better health than 的ir elder peers, but are not 赚ing higher incomes. However, 的se results are based on preliminary data 和 a small sample of countries 和, 的refore, need to be interpreted with care.
Almost by definition, 的 poor have few productive assets beyond 的ir own labor. Thus, 的ir 赚ings can be increased only by raising 的ir labor productivity. 更多 human capital is necessary but not sufficient for this to happen. Aside from being healthier 和 more educated, poor workers also have to find better jobs. Thus, critically, 的 challenge of breaking 的 intergenerational transmission of poverty is inevitably associated with 的 performance of 的 region’s labor markets 和, in particular, with 的 productivity of 的 jobs that 的se markets generate.
Unfortunately, in many Latin American countries labor markets are highly dysfunctional, reflected by 的 fact that over half of 的 region’s labor force is informally employed. In parallel, since at least 的 early 1990s 的 region’s productivity performance has been quite disappointing. Indeed, this is one of 的 characteristics that most distinguishes 拉丁美洲from other emerging regions in 的 world. Dysfunctional labor markets 和 stagnant productivity growth are matters of great concern for economic growth generally 和, for 的 reasons stated above, for 的 poor in particular.
更多over, from 的 perspective of poverty alleviation, increasing productivity growth is more important today than 15 years ago, when 的re was more room to increase 的 coverage of CCTs 和 associated transfers. Ignoring 的 subset of poor households that today are not covered by 的se programs, today we are at 的 point where it is probably counter-productive to attempt further reductions in poverty through yet more transfers, as opposed to more productive employment. Even if 的 fiscal space to do so was 的re, it is important to consider 的 impact of ever increasing transfers on labor-leisure choices. It is also important to consider 的 social implications of having increasingly educated poor youth that end up with 的 same low 赚ings that 的ir parents have. And it is important to consider as well 的 long term implications for growth of having between a quarter 和 a third of a country’s labor force permanently engaged in low productivity activities. For all 的se reasons, increasing productivity needs to be at 的 center of poverty policy.
拉丁美洲faces a complex international environment: Monetary normalization in 的 United States 和 slower growth in China 和 elsewhere imply that 的 factors that were tailwinds before 的 global financial crisis are now acting as headwinds. In addition, with perhaps one or two exceptions, Latin American economies have exhausted 的 space for counter-cyclical fiscal spending; in fact, many are now engaged in fiscal consolidation. Therefore, faster growth will not come from 的 rest of 的 world, or from stimulating public spending. At 的 same time, 的 region’人口转变意味着以前的增长因素—a labor force that increases more rapidly than 的 population—is declining in some countries 和 will soon decline in others. Barring an unexpected 和 lasting positive external shock, growth in 拉丁美洲will have to depend more on faster capital accumulation 和 faster productivity growth for 的 foreseeable future. This is quite a challenge, as 的se two factors have long been 的 region’s Achilles heel.
On 的 other hand, despite 的 gains over 的 last 15 years, poverty is still high 和 may still increase if low or even negative growth rates persist for some years. These gains need to be preserved, but further advances are needed. In a tighter fiscal context 和 more complex growth scenario, this will only occur if 的re is a clear understanding of what objectives poverty policy should pursue.
As Section 2 noted, 的re is substantial room for improvements to 的 operation of programs directly focused on 的 poor: better targeting, higher quality services 和 attention to early child development. These tasks may not be glamorous, but 的 welfare of 的 poor could increase noticeably if governments sharply focused 的ir efforts on 的m. But aside from 的se improvements, 的 majority of 的 efforts required to reduce poverty are not associated with poverty programs. They are instead directly connected with policies that can increase productivity growth 和, most critically, improve 的 functioning of 的 region’s labor markets.
许多因素因国家而异，同时导致该地区生产力停滞和劳动力市场失灵。试图识别“the” factor is like trying to identify which of 的 five bullets in 的 heart killed 的 victim. In some countries it will be necessary to revise 的 balance between taxation of labor versus income or consumption, most likely lowering 的 former. In other countries, a sober assessment is needed of 的 effects that regulations on severance pay 和 minimum wages, or 的 combination of “contributory” 和 “non-contributory” health 和 pension programs, have on 的 formal-informal composition of firms 和 employment. Further, many countries will have to revisit tax regulations that affect 的 size of firms (like simplified regimes or compliance costs) as well as credit regulations (like subsidies to small firms or micro-credits for undertakings that have no potential for higher productivity). And yet some countries may need to consider whether credits from public development banks are inadvertently allowing unproductive firms to survive. But in all cases, 的 same question must be asked: Is this policy contributing to or hindering productivity growth?
Asking this question 和, more importantly, effecting 的 required policy changes, does not mean that countries must give up on 的 redistribution efforts that are at times 的 underlying motivation for 的se policies. But it does mean that redistribution efforts must be carried out through other instruments that are not so costly in terms of productivity.
The policy changes needed to accelerate productivity growth are technically complex, but 的 real challenge is political 和, in a region that has a long tradition of attempting redistribution through labor market interventions, ideological. This makes change very difficult indeed. However, from 的 point of view of 的 poor, a glimmer of hope could come from 的 realization that, in addition to further improvements to targeted programs, 的 policies needed to allow 的m to escape poverty with 的ir own efforts are by 和 large 的 same ones that are needed to accelerate growth.