Although poverty rates have reduced during the last 15 years, Peru is still one of the countries in Latin America with the highest level of income inequality. Nearly one out of two Peruvians lives in poverty - three out of five in the case of children1 - and one out of five is extremely poor. Income inequalities and, more generally, inequalities in human development between urban and rural areas, between Spanish and non-Spanish speakers and across climatic zones are remarkable; most of the extreme poor live in rural areas in the highlands and in the rural jungle and have Quechua, Aymara and other languages, rather than Spanish, as native tongues. They have fewer opportunities to progress through life and, as one might expect, this matters a great deal in explaining differences in child development indicators.
Within this context, the objective of this review is to describe the performance of key child development indicators in Peru between 1993 and 2005 and to link these results with findings from the recent literature on childhood poverty. The focus is on quantitative studies. Three dimensions of child development are reviewed: health and nutrition, schooling and child work. These topics are essential to understanding the persistence of poverty and childhood poverty in Peru and, as such, remain at the core of the debate on poverty alleviation.
Young Lives, Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, UK. 37 pp.