Weekly Chart: Latin America's Rural Workers

By Nicki Fleischner

As more Latin Americans head to the cities, jobs for the region’s rural workers become increasingly vulnerable.

With 80 percent of the region’s population currently living in cities—up from just 40 percent in 1950—Latin America is undergoing rapid urbanization. And while growing cities come with a slew of concerns, from air pollution to slum developments, it’s Latin America’s rural population that is in a more precarious situation when it comes to employment.

According to a new report from the International Labor Organization released this month, over half of the 52 million people working in Latin America’s rural areas are in a state of "vulnerable employment," meaning they have lower wages, fewer social protections, and are more likely to be in poverty. Vulnerable employment, meanwhile, only affects a quarter of the region’s city workers.

In Latin America, a disproportionate number of poor live in rural zones: only one in five Latin Americans live in rural areas, but one in three of the region's poor reside there. As agriculture’s contribution to Latin America’s GDP shrinks—from 16.5 percent in 1965 to 5.2 percent in 2015—and rural workers turn to other forms of employment, they face mounting disadvantages compared to their urban counterparts. 

AS/COA Online takes a look at the urban-rural labor divide.