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Income Distribution

One of Torrijos's major goals was to address the problem of unequal income distribution, which during the 1960s was one of the most skewed in the world. In 1970 the richest quintile (20 percent) of the households received 61.8 percent of the income; in stark contrast, the poorest quintile received only 2 percent of the income. Results of a study conducted in 1983 by the Panamanian government suggested that the Torrijos policies did, in fact, make income distribution more equitable. The income share of the richest quintile fell to nearly 50 percent, while all other income groups increased their share: the fourth quintile (second-to-richest) from 20 percent to 23 percent; the third quintile from 11 percent to 15 percent; the second quintile from 5 percent to 9 percent; and the first (poorest) quintile to 3 percent. Nevertheless, despite the program's success, the 1983 study confirmed a continuing pattern of a relatively prosperous metropolitan area and poor rural provinces.

Data as of December 1987