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Fewer Chileans Live in Poverty Despite Weak Economic Growth, Government Says

  • Reuters

FILE - Makeshift homes fill the Vila Ermita de San Antonio neighborhood, below, near high-rise apartments located in the Las Condes sector of Santiago, Chile.

FILE - Makeshift homes fill the Vila Ermita de San Antonio neighborhood, below, near high-rise apartments located in the Las Condes sector of Santiago, Chile.

Fewer Chileans were living in poverty despite weak economic growth in the world's leading copper producer, the government said Thursday, noting that 11.7 percent of the population was below the poverty line in 2015 compared with 14.4 percent in 2013.

The poverty line for a household with one person was set at 152,000 pesos (US $231) per month and for a household with four people at 400,000 pesos (US $608), according to the government's Casen socioeconomic survey, which is published every two years.

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 21, 2016.

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 21, 2016.

"It's very important, considering the complex international backdrop of low copper prices, that we've been able to decrease poverty in Chile," President Michelle Bachelet said from New York in a video published on Facebook. She was in New York City for the annual U.N. General Assembly.

Copper accounts for nearly half of the country's total exports. A sharp decline in copper prices over the last couple of years has crimped investments in the mining sector and weighed heavily on the economy.

Despite criticism from business leaders and the right-wing opposition, the center-left Bachelet government has tried to push through tax and education reforms to tackle inequality, which has fallen slightly since 2013 but is still one of the highest among the developed economies of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"What's important here is that we're talking about 400,000 people who have left poverty," said Bachelet.

Extreme poverty also decreased to 3.5 percent of the population, from 4.5 percent in 2013.

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