A Middle Class Emerges In Latin America

Improvements in public services and rising wages are fostering the creation of a prosperous middle class in many Latin American countries.

"Signs of progress are all around. New tower-blocks, of the kind ubiquitous in the smarter parts of São Paulo, now jut up from among the houses of what still resembles a favela, or shantytown. Public services are improving fast: nearly everyone has electricity, piped water and sewerage. Smart new school buses run by the municipal government ply up and down the hillsides. And the mood of optimism is palpable. "Each year has been better than the last," says Mrs Jozina de Arruda. Between the profit from the kiosk and her husband's wages as a security guard at a bank, they earn $900-1,200 a month."

"They are members of a new middle class that is emerging almost overnight across Brazil and much of Latin America. Tens of millions of such people are the main beneficiaries of the region's hard-won economic stability and recent economic growth. Having left poverty behind, their incipient prosperity is driving the rapid growth of a mass consumer market in a region long notorious for the searing contrast between a small privileged elite and a poor majority. Their advent also promises to transform the region's politics."

Full Story: Adiós to poverty, hola to consumption

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