With the right policies, the
Mexican government can
protect the middle class and
poverty—despite the crisis.
Can Latin American governments tackle inequality in the midst of the global economic
downturn? Although some countries—most notably Brazil and Chile—have made dramatic gains in
reducing poverty and expanding the middle class,
Latin America remains, in the first decade of the
twenty-first century, one of the world’s most unequal
regions. Inequality has deep roots in the region’s
76 americas quarterly spring 2009
colonial history and institutions, but a major driver
of today’s income gap is the uneven access to public goods such as education. Unequal access to education and other productive assets is not only the
source of wide economic disparities, but it also prevents intergenerational mobility.
Examining the case of Mexico can help us find
ways to understand this phenomenon. The gap