Latin America and the Caribbean
The 22 countries ranked by the Index in the Latin America and the Caribbean region score in the lower middle range of the Index—just below the Index’s global average and behind the East Asia and the Pacific region—with an overall average score of 59.86. Compared with results of their peers in the East Asia and the Pacific, human capital outcomes for this region’s older generations tend to be somewhat higher; practically tied for the 25–54 age group; and slightly behind for the younger generations. To some extent, this hints at the rise of East Asia and some missed opportunities in the Latin America and the Caribbean region.
The gap between the best and worst performers here is smaller than for any other region. The two best-performing countries, Argentina (52) and Chile (53), share similar strengths and weaknesses across the Deployment and Know-how subindexes, but diverge with regard to realized human capital capacity. Chile is ahead on this dimension with higher rates of educational attainment across all age groups, and development of future human capital potential, for which Argentina tops the region due to the size and skill diversity of its young population in tertiary education. Both countries could boost their human capital further by improving the quality of their education systems and reducing youth unemployment and underemployment.
By contrast, the region’s two largest economies, Mexico (69) and Brazil (77), rank towards the middle of the Index overall. Mexico achieves comparatively low levels of unemployment, including among its young generation. Both countries are home to diversified and complex working environments. However, they underperform with regard to translating these into skill-intensive employment opportunities for their people and building the human capital potential of their next generation in terms of education quality, skill diversity and staff training, indicating a need for additional efforts if the two countries are to succeed in the emerging economic and labour market environment of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Similarly, Peru (66) and Colombia (68) score in the middle of the region, with Peru outperforming and topping the region on the Deployment subindex due to high levels of labour force participation.
The bottom ranks of the region are made up of Venezuela (94)—whose Capacity subindex performance indicates long-term human capital development challenges —and the group of Central American nations, such as Honduras (101), where issues such as incomplete basic education remain an obstacle to greater human capital development.
Several countries in the region have not yet achieved universal primary school enrolment, while, on average, 20% of the region’s children do not finish basic education. On the plus side, there generally is no observable gender gap in education. Though many countries in the region face with high youth unemployment rates in the 15–24 age group, more positively, unemployment in the 25–54 core working age group tends to be in the single digits and high-skilled employment is in the range of 20%, suggesting the need for additional efforts to enable the region’s younger generations to build on the relative success of its older ones. Labour force participation in the region begins to decline markedly for the 55–64 age group, while at the same time there is also a relatively large share of people in the 65 and over age group that continues to work past their countries’ years of healthy life expectancy, indicating some challenges with the region’s social welfare net.