Latin American countries are considered among the poorest in the world with one of the lowest Living Conditions Index, as compared to Europe and North America. This situation is demonstrated in the following graphs, presenting the GDP per Capita and Living Conditions Index as compared to a global figure, created as an average of the European and North American countries.

GDP Per Capita


Living Conditions


We note in the graph below that the majority of poorest countries performs a low number of tests, while the rich countries such as Chile, Uruguay and Panama perform considerable higher number of tests. A clear effect the GDP level.

Tests per 1M vs GDP per Capita (Feb ’20-Aug ’21)

 Tests per 1M vs GDP per Capita (Feb ’20-Aug ’21)

Additionally, the informal employment rate in the Latin America countries is among the highest in the world. Closed to 50% of the labor force, in informally employed, even in the wealthier countries like Argentina and Chile.

This situation complicates lockdown policies, as all the informally employed citizens, cannot be helped by supporting social policies, therefore they tend to go out to seek work. Apart from that working from home is next to impossible, as most of the working people have hands on jobs in agriculture, retail and construction. This is probably the main reason for lockdown relaxation respect, although the pandemic keeps increasing from June 2020 onwards.

Informal Employment Rate (Total)


As lockdown rules are not respected, population mobility increases and the spread of the virus within the same household is inevitable. Given that the average household size is one of the highest in the world (3.7 household members per household) and the multigeneration cohabitation is also high (33%), the spread of the virus within the same household is further increased, affecting fatally the elderly members of the household.

Sub- RegionsRegionsAverage household size1 member2-3 member4-5 member6 or more membersAged 65 years or overMulti-Generation
Latin AmericaLatin America & the Caribbean3,712,5%37,8%33,0%16,7%21,7%33,0%
BalkansEastern Europe2,923,4%45,2%25,5%6,0%38,8%44,0%
Western EuropeWestern Europe2,430,3%47,8%19,7%2,2%
GreeceWestern Europe2,625,7%49,2%22,6%2,5%36,8%
North AmericaNorth America2,528,0%49,5%19,0%3,4%28,1%15,7%
Central EuropeEastern Europe2,628,5%45,8%21,6%4,2%
BalticEastern Europe2,431,5%48,3%17,9%2,3%37,4%31,0%
ScandinavianWestern Europe2,140,3%42,6%15,5%1,6%4%3%
Sub-Saharan AfricaSub-Saharan Africa5,011,5%25,6%28,1%34,8%16,5%23,9%
Asia - PacificAsia-Pacific4,59,5%30,9%32,8%26,8%20,5%44,0%
Middle East and North AfricaMiddle East and North Africa5,57,0%26,6%30,2%36,2%19,9%40,8%

Examining the COVID-19 Case age distribution below we see that over 70% of the cases are under the age of 50 years. Despite this positive factor with respect to the low risk of getting seriously sick from COVID-19 and dying, the anticipated effect is not experienced in Latin America.

COVID-19 Cases Age Distribution

Ages0 - 1920 - 2930 - 3940 - 4950 - 5960 - 6970 - 7980+
Latin America & The Caribean10%20%23%18%14%9%4%3%

A potential explanation for this situation is the bad disease profiles of the population as described in the following graphs. Obesity rates, diabetes prevalence and cardiovascular which are factors that increase the probability to get seriously ill from COVID-19, are depict significantly higher percentages compared to the global figures (again formed by European and North America countries).

Obesity Rate


% of Deaths - Cardiovascular


Diabetes Prevelance