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Peru - Highlights

Indigenous Peoples, Poverty and Human Development in Latin America: 1994-2004

Indigenous Peoples 1994-2004 button

Indigenous population
Between 25% and 48% of Peruvian households can be considered indigenous.  The lower limit corresponds to households in which the household head and/or spouse uses an indigenous language (Quechua, Aymara or a native tongue of the Amazon region) more frequently than Spanish. The upper limit identifies all the Peruvian households in which the household head and/or the head’s spouse have parents or grandfathers that had an indigenous mother tongue.

Poverty among indigenous households increased slightly between 1994 and 2000 from 62.3% to 62.8%, while poverty among non-indigenous households increased from 40.1% to 43% during the same period. Extreme poverty among indigenous households decreased slightly between 1994 and 2000 from 28.6% to 22.2%, and from 10.9% to 9.5% among non-indigenous households. Of all poor households, 43% are indigenous. Of all extremely poor households, 52% are indigenous. (Ch. 7: Tables 2 and 3).
Poverty levels between indigenous and non-indigenous households decreased slightly but, unfortunately, this is largely explained by an increase in the poverty rate among non-indigenous households, rather than a decrease in poverty among indigenous households.

Although there has been slow but positive change in the percentage of indigenous people in different national consumption quintiles between 1994 and 2001, over 55% of people in the bottom decile are indigenous, while only 10% of people in the top consumption decile are indigenous. (Ch. 7: Table 8).

Income and employment
The members of both indigenous and non-indigenous households work mainly in the informal sector. Despite these similarities, the employed indigenous population on average earns only half of what the employed non-indigenous population earns. However, it is worth noting that much of the indigenous population lives in rural areas, where the incomes (and prices) are significantly less than in urban areas. The indigenous population receives less pay for formal sector work than the non-indigenous population, but the opposite happens in the informal sector, where the indigenous population obtains higher income.

Wage differences
On average, members of non-indigenous households earn practically double the earnings of indigenous households. The decomposition of that gap shows that 49% of income gap is due to differences in the endowments between indigenous and non-indigenous people, while the remaining 51% is due to differences in the remunerations received by both groups.

Returns to schooling
Returns to schooling vary little between indigenous and non-indigenous populations (10.8% and 10.6%). Among the indigenous, men obtain markedly greater returns to schooling than women (13.5% and 9.9%), while this gender differential disappears among the non-indigenous (11.9% for men and 12.1% for women). The greatest returns to schooling appear in rural areas, where indigenous people have the greatest returns — 8.2% for indigenous households versus 7.5% for non-indigenous households. (Ch. 7: Table 17).

Indigenous households have less educational achievement than non-indigenous
households. Mean years of schooling for indigenous adults is 6.4 years, while mean years of schooling for non-indigenous people is 8.7 years. Male indigenous household heads have almost 2.5 years less education than male non-indigenous household heads, while female indigenous household heads have 4.6 years less schooling than do their non-indigenous counterparts. (Ch. 7: Table 19).

Access to health insurance is extremely low for both indigenous and non-indigenous people in Peru. In fact, 55% of Peruvian citizens do not have any health insurance at all. Nearly 42% of all Peruvians have public health insurance – a figure that is comparable in both indigenous and non-indigenous households. Only 1.1% and 2.8% of indigenous and non-indigenous populations have access to private health insurance. (Ch. 7: Table 20).

Access to services
Only 53% of indigenous households have access to drinking water and 30% have access to sewage facilities, compared to 66% and 53% for non-indigenous households, respectively. Furthermore, 27% of non-indigenous households have telephones, compared to 11% of indigenous households. Indigenous people have similar or lower levels of access to social programs as the non-indigenous. This is partially explained by the fact that the indigenous population is concentrated in rural areas, where there is less access to services in general. (Ch. 7: Table 21).