One out of every five Latin Americans—about 130 million people—have never known anything but poverty, subsisting on less than US$4 a day throughout their lives. These are the region's chronically poor, who have remained so despite unprecedented inroads against poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean since the turn of the century.

By most measures, the 2000s were one of the most impressive decades for economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). With the exception of 2009, the region s gross domestic product per capita grew consistently at an average rate of 2.5 percent between 2000 and 2012.