Bolivia has long been considered one of South
America's poorest countries, but high economic growth in
the decade following the turn of the millennium has
reduced the proportion of poor and the social
differences between rich and poor have shrunk.
The proportion of residents living below the national
poverty line has decreased, from 59 to 35 percent
between 2004 and 2018, according to the World Bank.
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in Bolivia, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Poverty is the worst in the countryside, and the
social and economic gaps between city and country are
deep. Moving into the cities is extensive. The situation
among the indigenous peoples is particularly difficult.
They have poorer than average health among the
population, as well as shorter life expectancy, lower
incomes, poorer education and higher unemployment.
The indigenous peoples' ability to create a better
social and economic situation improved when Evo Morales,
himself an aymara, became president in 2006. Morales
focused on fighting poverty and improving public health.
One goal was to give all residents access to basic
healthcare, clean water and free school food.
Good income from exports of natural gas, in
particular, made it possible to introduce popular cash
grants to many poor households. Parents get paid for
letting their children go to school, pregnant women get
compensation if they visit maternity care, and poor
elderly people who have never received a pension before
receive money in hand.
The majority of residents have previously been
excluded from the social security system, as they lack
formal employment. A relatively developed social
insurance system was otherwise built up in 1956 with old
age pension, accident and disability insurance,
maternity allowance and general health insurance. In
1996, a new pension system was introduced with
individual, privately managed pension accounts.
However, the pension system changed at the end of
2010 when the government decided to nationalize the
pension funds and expand the system so that it would
also cover a large part of those working in the informal
sector, ie with black jobs of various kinds. At the same
time, the retirement age was lowered from 65 to 58
years. The retirement age was further lowered for miners
and women with more than three children.
The challenge of improving health care is enormous.
The care is inadequate and has been concentrated in the
cities. The health of the population is poor, especially
in the countryside. Malnutrition is a difficult problem,
as are poor hygienic conditions.
However, developments are going in the right
direction. An example of this is that the high infant
mortality was halved between 1997 and 2012 from 66 to 33
deaths on 1,000 births.
Society is male dominated. Women are discriminated
against, even though the law provides for equal rights
for men and women. The lower the social group a woman
belongs to, the more common the discrimination becomes.
About three-quarters of all women in Bolivia have been
subjected to violence, according to a report by NGOs.
Most often it involves domestic violence from a spouse,
partner or other male family member. Abortion rights are
After an attention-grabbing murder, where the police
have long ignored the murdered woman's reports of
violence, in 2013 a new law against violence against
women was adopted. The crime can now give 30 years in
prison and sexual abuse can give 20 years in prison. In
addition, specially trained lawyers and courts must
handle cases of violence against women in order to give
the victims better opportunities to claim their rights
and get out of life-threatening violence.
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation
is prohibited by law. However, marriage can only be
concluded between man and woman. But according to a 2018
ruling in the human rights court that belongs to the OAS
regional organization, same-sex marriage must be
approved by all countries that have signed a U.S. human
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
22 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected
0.3 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
92.9 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
60.7 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a
percentage of GDP
6.4 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person
$ 213 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament
53 percent (2018)
Opposition leaders flee the country
Opposition candidate Manfred Reyes Villa, who lost
the presidential election against Morales, flees across
the border to Peru and heads to the United States to
avoid charges of corruption in Bolivia.
The government confiscates the ranch
The government confiscates a 12,500-acre ranch from a
soybean grower, one of Morale's foremost political
rivals. According to the Deputy Minister of Land
Affairs, the ranch land should be distributed among
Grand victory for Morales and his party
President Evo Morales is supported by 64 percent of
voters in the first round of the presidential election,
securing a second term in office directly. In second
place with 27 percent comes Manfred Reyes Villa,
candidate for the Alliance Progress for the
Bolivia-National Assembly (PPB-CN), which brings
together a number of right-wing groups. Morale's Party
The Movement for Socialism (MAS) is given a two-thirds
majority in Parliament and thus the opportunity to amend
the Constitution on its own. The MAS receives 88 seats
in the Chamber of Deputies and 26 in the Senate,
Progress for the Bolivia-National Assembly (PPB-CN)
receives 37 and 10 seats respectively, the Front for
National Unity (UN) receives 3/0 and Social Alliance
Climate change threatens Lake Titicaca
According to the authorities, Lake Titicaca (one of
the world's highest navigable lakes) has reached its
lowest water level since 1949 through evaporation, which
is believed to be due to global warming.
Prohibition of animals on circus
A new law is passed that prohibits the use of animals
in circus performances. According to animal rights
activists, it is the first law in the world of its kind.
Ex-president in court
A lawsuit is initiated against former President
Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, in his absence. Sánchez de
Lozada is accused of killing over 60 people in the
protests in October 2003. He has been living in exile in
the United States ever since (see Modern History).
US diplomat expelled
President Morales orders an American diplomat to
leave the country after the diplomat is accused of
conspiring with opposition groups. It happens six months
after the US ambassador is expelled.
New constitution approved in referendum
A referendum approves a new constitution, described
by President Evo Morales as a new start for the country
and an establishment for the indigenous peoples. Over 60
percent of the participants vote yes. The vote is
preceded by violent protests and a fierce political
debate. The new Constitution, which comes into force in
February, will mean increased state control over
important natural resources and increased autonomy for
The state takes control of the gas producer
The government takes control of Pan-American Energy's
local natural gas producer and warns other privately
owned companies that they will face the same fate if
they do not comply with Bolivian law.