The approach is necessarily reductionistic, since the objective is to ask as few questions as necessary to determine the socio-economic level.
In each country, the selected variables are those that best reflect the social and economic realities there.
More so than some other places, it was also important to collect information about socio-economic characteristics. Latin America is marked by sharp socio-economic inequalities, whereupon social and political policies will impact different classes in radically different ways.
If inequality in wealth were solely the consequences of personal choices about work, effort and savings, then people are getting what they desire and deserve.
But if wealth inequality is due either to the legacy of historical problems or contemporary corruption and lack of transparency, then this becomes a major social and political problem.
In Latin America, household income is problematic due to a variety of reasons:- hyper-inflation, non-cash and barter activities, unsteady cash flows, absence of household financial bookkeeping, differences in costs of goods and services, as well as a general reluctance to reveal household wealth.
In most Latin American countries, standardized systems of socio-economic levels are in place.
In the traditional collection of demographic data in Latin America, it was obviously important to obtain age/sex distributions.
Such distributions are obviously important in the planning for area such as education, healthcare, labor, pensions, etc.
The timeline in this figure is created using data collected from print, broadcast, and web news media worldwide from over 100 languages (
The data are normalized for the exponential rise in media coverage of the past 30 years.
In the history of Latin America, it is possible to identify many instances of wealth inequality as being caused by foreign hegemonists, multinational corporations, dictators and oligarchies.
In more recent history, though, Latin American countries have been largely democratically elected, and government policies seemed to cater squarely to the median voter and not to a small elite --- committing to universal education and healthcare, providing job training programs, creating environments that attract foreign investments, imposing progressive taxation, stabilizing currencies, imposing price controls, privatizating large government-owned enterprises, etc.
Alternately, the rich and powerful are more insidious than we think ...