Peru currently ranks 78 out of 182 countries in the UNDP’s Human Poverty Index (2009). Rich in natural resources, it boasts the fastest growing economy in Latin America today. The economy has been growing annually at over 5 per cent in the last decade. Even during 2009, when most of the world economy stagnated or deteriorated, growth continued in Peru, although at a lower rate (1.1 per cent).
Despite this growth, social expenditure is low even by Latin American standards. Unemployment is still very high, poverty has only recently appeared to be reduced (although still over 30 per cent of the population is considered poor), and there are widening gaps between different sectors of the population. The social sector ministries have only just begun policies based on accountability (e.g. the Budget Based on Results programme by the Ministry of Economics). Programmes include the national strategy to fight poverty called Crecer, meaning ‘to grow’, within which is Juntos, a cash conditional transfer programme, and Wawa Wasi (an early childcare programme for children aged 6 to 48 months). However, the impact of these and other programmes to reduce poverty has not been established clearly.
The widening gap between rich and poor and urban and rural has led to increased migration to the cities, especially the capital, Lima, which is now home to approximately 28 per cent of Peru’s population. Migration does not happen just because of poverty or because children are seeking education and better opportunities. In the 1980s and early 1990s many thousands of people also fled their homes due to internal armed conflict between the army and guerrilla groups in some areas.
Over 29 million people live in Peru and children make up 38 per cent of the population. Children continue to be the most vulnerable and unprotected citizens. Of the 3.8 million people living in extreme poverty, 2.1 million are children. Of the total 10.2 million under-18 population, more than 6.5 million live below the poverty line.
Peru ranks 96th in the world for under-5 mortality, yet children in the poorest areas – city slums, the Andean Highlands and the Amazon rainforest – are 10 to 12 times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than the children of the richest 20 per cent of families. Many do not get enough good food to eat, cannot get treatment when they are ill, and drop out of school.
In Peru repetition of grades and temporary drop-out from school are common, leading to a high percentage of children who are ‘over-age’, or older than the norm for the grade they are in. In the Young Lives sample 60 per cent of the older cohort is over-age. Boys are 1 per cent more likely to be over-age than girls.
Although school drop-out is strongly related to being over-age, it has other causes too. The number of children who work in Peru is high. Boys are more likely to be employed in paid activities and girls more likely to work in the home.
The Young Lives Round 3 data places Young Lives in a unique position to study a variety of topics; there is no comparable Peruvian dataset available to the public. The issue of education quality is a major concern for policymakers and our research shows persistent inequalities in accessing good schools. Consumption smoothing, child work, children’s evolving understandings of well-being, and overweight and obesity as well as malnutrition and food security, will all be analysed too.
BBC country profile web page; UNICEF country web page and The State of the World’s Children 2009; Save the Children country web page; 2007/2008/2009 Human Development Report; Gina Crivello et al. (2009) ‘ Becoming Somebody’: Youth Transitions through Education and Migration. Evidence from Young Lives in Peru. Young Lives Working Paper 43; Young Lives Round 2 Survey: Country Report
Our sample sites
Young Lives has study sites in many areas of Peru including (in alphabetical order): Amazonas, Ancash, Apurimac, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Huánuco, Junín, La Libertad, Lima, Piura, Puno, San Martin and Tumbes. Together, these areas cover different geographical regions, levels of development, urban/rural location and population characteristics. For a map showing the study sites, a full description of the sample, and key findings so far, follow the links. For an explanation about the study design, see this: http://www.ninosdelmilenio.org/que-hacemos/diseno/
Key team members (see complete list on staff page)
Contact the team
To contact the team in Peru, email Virginia Rey Sanchez, Communications Coordinator (vreysanchez_at_grade.org.pe)