Abstract The Social Panorama of Latin America provides an annual assessment of the most salient aspects of social development in Latin America, with particular emphasis on the question of equity. Among the issues it examines are poverty, education, the situation of children and young people, gender and social expenditure. It also presents an overview of how Governments are implementing their social agendas and reviews new policy directions in various social sectors. The main emphasis of the 1997 edition of the Panorama is on the structural aspects of income and employment distribution and the intergenerational transmission of educational and work opportunities. The enormous challenges presented by the persistently high concentration of income and education -an enduring phenomenon in Latin America- are highlighted, as is the need to harmonize policies in the areas of education, demographics, employment and the distribution of wealth in order to make progress towards providing equal opportunities for all the population to attain well-being. This edition of the Panorama also reviews the legislative measures taken in the past few years as a consequence of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. The chapter on the social agenda analyses the steps that have been taken in Latin America to modernize State social institutions and the principal aspects of this new institutional structure. It also summarizes the main conclusions of the first Regional Conference in Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development, held in Sao Paulo in April 1997.