Overcoming Income Inequality in Panama


By Oliver Kwai Ben

The income disparity between the rich and the poor can be seen from “Punta Paitilla” and “Boca La Caja.”

As I watch the local news, I visualize how income inequality has been amazingly rising in my country. Interestingly enough, Panama occupies one of the top positions of high-income inequality in Latin America. In fact, the small size of 31 miles from Pacific to Atlantic coast makes the contrast between the rich and the poor.

As an example, we can find that there is a notorious contrast between a wealthy and a poor town near the Bay of Panama. On the one side, we have “Punta Paitilla,” an affluent and exclusive sector surrounded by enormous skyscrapers, fancy shopping malls, and fine restaurants where you find the finest caviar. This sector is commonly resided by rich chief executive officers from top-notch companies and wealthy families that have acquired upscale properties.

On the other side, there is “Boca La Caja,” a nearby town where houses cram onto every available patch of land, bathrooms are built directly over the sea, and household waste of all sorts is dumped in there too. Homes are concrete blocks with zinc sheet roofs, some with metal sheeting under the thatch to keep the rain out. Despite the poverty, the residents of this town strive to be employed as carpenters, builders, and masons, housemaids, and cashiers.

The good news is that there are some signs of progress. The town has its own small hospital; several schools have been opened to offer education to local kids. Additionally, power has been also taken into account. For instance, the government has been installing electricity panels and water systems to supply the resource.

Finally, the World Bank recognizes that inequality in Panama is due to fall a little, partly thanks to new social programs including a $100-per-month pension for the elderly poor, and a universal scholarship for children.

The latter program might boost school enrollment in the suburbs, where in secondary school stood at about 30% according to a survey from a couple of years ago. Action is urgently required: the Bank says that in Panama’s indigenous areas, 85% live in “extreme poverty”, meaning they can’t afford enough calories for a normal diet. In other words, it is time for the wealth to be shared.

Works Cited

Gray, George. “Inequality Is Stagnating in Latin America: Should We Do

Nothing?” The Guardian. The Guardian, 25 Aug. 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.

Watson, Thomas. “Inequality in Panama.” The Economist. The Economist

Newspaper, 17 June 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.