Experts say Bolivian middle class remains vulnerable

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-28 14:25:39|Editor: Yamei
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LA PAZ, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The Bolivian middle class remains vulnerable, as these people could fall back into poverty if the right measures are not taken, economist Luis Ballivian said Wednesday.

The former official of the Central Bank of Bolivia spoke to Xinhua after the government presented its 2017 economic report on Tuesday.

"Technically, those who entered into the category of middle income are not poor, but any 'shock' could easily return them to the condition of poverty," said Ballivian.

The report was presented by Mario Guillen, the minister of economy and public finances, who pointed out the growth in the middle class.

The percentage of the Bolivian middle class had increased from 35 percent in 2005 to 58 percent in 2017, due to improved income. The country's middle class population reached 6.5 million in 2017.

However, economists say the possibility of returning to poverty still exists as long as people do not have access to quality jobs, with many Bolivians being employed in the informal labor market.

Carlos Arze, researcher from the Studies Center for Labor and Agricultural Development, told Xinhua that the government's report was based on the World Bank's format, which prioritizes statistical averages but not the actual reality of the country.

In 2010, the World Bank said that Bolivia had progressed from a low-income country to a middle-income country, due to improved gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.

Arze said the World Bank method simply divides the GDP by population and looks at the average.

"If this income is above the threshold they set, it becomes a middle class, even if (people) don't have a steady job, social benefits, better quality of life, among others," said Arze. "In consequence, this consideration is not sustainable and is vulnerable."

Despite these vulnerabilities, Bolivia's overall economic growth rate in recent years has consistently been among the best in Latin America.