Labor insertion of psychologists in Argentina

Labor insertion of psychologists in Argentina


It is said that Argentina is “the country of psychologists”. This phrase refers to the fact that, at present, there are more than 60,000 psychologists in this country. In a study developed between 1990 and 1993 on employability strategies of the psychologists from Buenos Aires University, during the first year after their graduation, Eduardo Gosende concludes that: "The profession suffers a process of job insecurity, seriously affecting recent graduates and extending to professionals already in practice" . This process might be associated with the increased number of graduates and the high preference for insertion into the clinical area. Other conclusions of this work are:

  • 59% of insertions are achieved in the clinical area.
  • These insertions have poor characteristics in terms of income, stability and opportunity for professional development.
  • The most profitable insertions are due to simultaneous work in different areas of the profession.

Meanwhile, Modesto Alonso (2009) provides quantitative data at national level and compares it with the situation of the profession in other countries:

  • 69,000 graduated psychologists since the creation of the first psychology degrees, between the '50s and 2008
  • almost 60,000 psychologists are currently active.
  • 1 psychologist every 690 inhabitants / 145 psychologists per 100,000 inhabitants.
  • 85% are women

Already in 2005, the high rate of psychological professionals put Argentina on the top of the list of 24 countries surveyed by the Atlas of the World Health Organization (WHO). At that time, Argentina had 121 psychologists per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Denmark with 85 psychologists per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2008 we had 145 psychologists per 100,000 inhabitants, ie the gap continued to widen. In the final ranking developed by WHO, the last countries were Egypt and Guatemala whit fewer than 1 professional per 100,000 inhabitants. Alonso´s study also shows an "imbalance" in the geographical distribution of active professionals through 2008. For every 100,000 inhabitants, there are:

  • in Buenos Aires City: 789 psychologists
  • in Río Negro: 163 psychologists
  • in Córdoba: 147 psychologists
  • in Santiago del Estero: 21 psychologists

According to Alonso, the analysis should not focus on the number of psychologists in the country, but how to take advantage of this situation, which is undoubtedly beneficial from the point of view of human resources available in the mental health area. Moreover, Alonso mentions a study by William Robiner which shows that in countries with between 29 and 45 psychologists per 100,000 inhabitants, there is unemployment or underemployment. In his view, this is due to the lack of statistics, policies, and laws to harness these resources, especially considering that there is demand but no effectors with decent enough working conditions to meet it. He also notes that almost 90% of the psychotherapists are psychologists in Argentina, while in the '40s and '50s, 95% were physicians. Taking into account that the percentages vary by province, we can say that most of the active psychologists (between 50% and 90%) are engaged in clinical psychology. For the rest of the fields the distribution is as follows:

  • Educational Psychology: between 5% and 40%
  • Forensic Psychology: between 1% and 11%
  • Community psychology: between 1% and 2%
  • Work and Organizational Psychology: between 0.1% and 10%.