The social status witnessed in South American countries measured by social indicators can only be described as a scandal. This is supported by the facts indicating that over 46 percent of the population in South American lives in chronic poverty. This state of persistent poverty has been described as a distributive challenge with high levels of inequality undermining the little efforts of the poor towards economic growth as well as self-growth. Between 1990 to 1999, the number of poor population increased by 11 million. There are various reasons and causes, which have been cited behind this trend of abject and chronic poverty in South America. The socio-economic policies and structures are deeply rooted in the traditional colonial past and do not match up to the current global trends hence unable to address the poverty situation. Secondly, the neo-liberal reforms have been cited as a contributing factor, which has widened the inequality gap since the growth advantages have been unequally distributed.
These inequalities have persisted due to the concentration of factors of production (mostly land and capital) to few hands. According to World Trade Organization, 5 percent of the world’s population categorized as chronic poverty lives in South America. Close to half of the population categorized as poor does not have the means to satisfy the very basic and essential human needs (food, shelter, and clothing). Parameters and variables (housing, health, and real value of pension) used to measure the social status of the population have deteriorated over the years. Lastly, the poverty status in South America has not been improved by the governance structures and political status in the majority of the countries. Bad governance and political instability have aggregated the poverty levels, especially through corruption, funds embezzlement, and misuse of resources.
Colin, Bradford. Redefining the State in Latin America. Paris, April 2, 1994.
Helwege, Cardoso Eliana and Ann. “Below the Line: Poverty in Latin America.” World Development, 1992: 19-37.
Leon, Feres Juan Carlos and Arturo. “The Magnitude of Poverty in Latin America.” CEPAL Review, 1990: 133-51.
Oscar, Altimir. “Development, Crisis, and Equality.” CEPAL Review, August 14, 1990: 7-27.
 Oscar, Altimir. “Development, Crisis, and Equality.”(CEPAL Review, August 14, 1990), p.10.
 Colin, Bradford. Redefining the State in Latin America. (Paris, April 2, 1994), p . 2
 Helwege, Cardoso Eliana and Ann. “Below the Line: Poverty in Latin America.”(World Development, 1992), p. 20.
 Leon, Feres Juan Carlos and Arturo. “The Magnitude of Poverty in Latin America.”(CEPAL Review, 1990), p.138.