Countries: Honduras (ranked 14th) and Guatemala (15th)
Overall scores: 23 and 14.8, respectively
Plagued by some of the world’s worst homicide rates, the effects of rampant drug trafficking, and high rates of poverty, these Central American neighbors are the least inclusive countries in the 2013 rankings. Their economies explain much of their low scores: In Honduras, only 10.8 percent of adult women have the chance to get a formal job. And in Guatemala, only 17.4 percent of minorities have such access.
In both countries, many people turn to the informal economy for income. Citizens in Guatemala and Honduras also feel their governments are slow to respond to their concerns, leaving them with low scores in the government responsiveness category.
“I can't say that I'm surprised that Honduras and Guatemala are at the bottom,” says Mike Allison, an associate professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania who writes about Central America. “In Guatemala, there are stark differences between the ladino [non-indigenous] and Mayan communities across social, political, and economic indicators.… I can’t say there has been much good news at tackling inequality in Guatemala.”