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Development challenges in Peru: Inequality, a local and regional trend
July 24 , 2018

​Universidad del Pacífico Research Center opened its seminar "Development Challenges in Peru" with the panel "Global trends: comparative visions of Latin America" with the participation of outstanding panelists from our university, the University of Oxford, as well as other guests.

Universidad del Pacífico Research Center, in partnership with the University of Oxford, organized the seminar "Development Challenges in Peru," which opened with the panel "Global trends: comparative visions of Latin America," with the participation of María Balarín, researcher in the Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE), Diego Sánchez-Anochea, Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Oxford, and Bruno Seminario, professor and researcher at Universidad del Pacífico, as well as with the comments of Arlette Beltrán and Felipe Portocarrero, both researchers of this same institution. 

The discussion was initiated by María Balarín, who raised a series of analyses and reflections on Education in Peru, where she highlighted that despite the efforts and important advances in the sector in recent years, the same problems that were identified in the nineties still persist: lack of infrastructure, wage gaps among teachers, inequality in educational quality by socioeconomic levels, among others. Balarín acknowledged that in the past, efforts were made to make improvements in the education system; however, she described these efforts as isolated and discontinuous. She also stressed that, in her opinion, Peru has not carried out a real educational reform, but specific reforms that do not have the necessary transversality to generate the major change processes in education that the country needs. Similarly, she warned that the current administration does not seem to be focused on a very clear reform, but rather on leading the sector with efficiency and effectiveness criteria, which made her warn of a technocratic bias oriented towards results in management and performance that seems to be moving towards an increasingly reductive vision of educational objectives, now understood exclusively as the achievements in education and mathematics measured by the Census-based Evaluation of Students (ECE as in its Spanish acronym). 

After analyzing the educational reform proposals from different administrations, the researcher pointed out that the proposals have focused on the delivery of the service, or what is also called "first generation reforms". In this sense, she concluded that none of the reforms that have been publicly debated have to do with the core of educational practice. Continuing with this line, Balarín invited to reflect on the objectives that our public policy should have in the present context of inequality, whether these should be limited only to the development of specific competencies, or whether we should aspire, in addition, to an education that trains people who are capable of thinking in an articulate and critical way, ethical subjects capable of building the institutions we need, capable of setting the development of the country in motion. 


María Balarín, researcher in the Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE). 

For his part, Diego Sánchez-Anochea, reflected on how health has been ensured as a universal right and how much progress has been made in Peru and Latin America in this objective, in the context of economic growth generated by the boom in raw materials. In this line, Sánchez-Anochea highlighted the importance of universalism in health policies, because, in the first place, in his opinion the creation of intraclass coalitions that allow supporting the improvement of services is the way to move towards policies that cover all quality services, and second, because poverty is not static and health problems are fundamental to revert to it. "Health problems are one of the fundamental causes for the middle and lower-middle class population to fall into poverty", he warned. On the other hand, he pointed out that Latin America, particularly Peru, has not been characterized by universalism in health, but by the segmentation that implies a basic service coverage, restricted to a part of the population and inequitable in the population. 

Among the main results of his research, Sánchez-Anochea highlights the improvement of Peru's position in terms of progress in the provision of services, mainly due to the expansion of its coverage, which is in the intermediate group, below Argentina. However, he said that "giving coverage to groups, but with quality or inequity problems, does not create an inclusive development agenda, which is important in the region". He also revealed that 36.1% of Peruvian families face risks of a "catastrophic expense for surgical operation" that would imply an expense that exceeds 10% of their income, which would in turn bring serious economic problems, compared to 20%-27% in the countries from the first development group in the region. Finally, he concluded that in Latin America, as in the Peruvian case, the expansion of coverage has not gone hand in hand with the provision of quality services and has kept the gaps between different population groups. 


Diego Sánchez-Anochea, Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Oxford. 

Subsequently, Dr. Bruno Seminario offered a comparative perspective of the Peruvian economy based on inequality as an indicator and its long-term evolution. In this sense, he revealed that in the last 200 years inequality has shown an upward trend and stressed that today, inequality is 10 points higher than what was experienced in colonial times. Likewise, he pointed out that inequality in Peru is pro-cyclical: tends to increase with large periods of economic expansion and to reduce in periods of depression. On the other hand, he pointed out that the historical gap that has existed in the level of income since colonial times, has kept a difference of 4 or 5 times between the top and bottom deciles going up. In the same sense, he explained that the participation of income through economic activities such as extractive industries has historically increased the inequality gaps due to its resource distribution model. 

Finally, he drew attention to the increase in the inequality index (Gini) that has been occurring in the last cycle, where Lima is a space with greater inequality compared to the regions. "The decisive moment to understand the dynamics of inequality was the economic restructuring after the war with Chile with the aristocratic Republic, since the State made possible errors that allowed and reproduced the inequality and disintegration cycle", he said. 


Bruno Seminario, professor and researcher at Universidad del Pacífico. 

The event was attended by Cynthia Sanborn, Vice President for Research, as well as other leading figures from the academic field and guests, who participated in the following thematic round tables of the seminar.

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