Poverty levels in El Salvador

Last week the government of El Salvador released data on poverty in El Salvador based on household polling during 2014. The statistics showed an uptick in poverty in 2014, and continuing disparities between rural and urban areas. The country continues to make progress in reducing extreme poverty.

The poverty level household income in El Salvador is measured in comparison to the cost of a basic basket of food for a household for a month. That amount is $184 in urban areas and $131 in rural areas. A household is defined as living in poverty if its household income is less than two times the basic basket price (i.e., $368 urban / $262 rural).

Under this measure, 31.9% of Salvadoran households lived in poverty in 2014, up from 29.6% in 2013:

Extreme poverty is defined as households lacking the income equal to the cost of the basic food basket. That level increased in 2014 to 7.6% nationwide, up from 7.1%.

Looking over a longer time period, poverty in El Salvador has generally fluctuated between 30 and 40 percent during the past 15 years with a high 40.6% in 2011 and a low two years later of 29.6%:

Extreme poverty has generally followed a downward path during that time period, with the percentage of Salvadorans living in extreme poverty being cut in half during the last 15 years:

Looking at the 15 year data, which includes right wing ARENA administrations 2000-2008 and left wing FMLN administrations 2009-2014, both can claim credit for reducing extreme poverty while neither has a clear record on changing the level of relative poverty in the country.

Other statistics from the recently released data:
  • Average household monthly income -- $540   ($640 urban / $357 rural)
  • Average years of schooling -- 8.1  (9.3 urban, 5.8 rural)
  • Illiteracy rate --  10.9%  (7.0% urban / 17.7% rural)
  • Internet users:  1.32 million
Tomorrow -- looking at "multi-dimensional" poverty statistics.