According to a recent report by The World Bank-The national poverty line set in 2011 shows that poverty has declined from aproximately 35% in 2001 to less than 10% in 2013-2014. According to Dr.Ghazala Mansuri a Lead Economist at the World Bank
“These gains were not concentrated among those close to the poverty line. Even the poorest 5 percent of the population saw an improvement in living st andards.”
WE HAVE EXTRACTED THE FOLLOWING POINTS FROM HER RECENT REPORT ABOUT POVERTY IN PAKISTAN :
1)Over 80 percent of Pakistanis consistently report that their economic wellbeing has either deteriorated or remained the same.
Only 20 percent, disproportionately concentrated in the very top of the distribution, feel that they are better off and similarly small numbers believe that economic conditions have improved for their locality.
2)The increase in incomes is also evident when looking at other indicators of wellbeing. Access to toilet facilities for instance, has significantly improved; Among the poorest 20 percent of households, those without any type of toilet has been cut in half—from close to 60% to about 30%.
3)The ownership of assets like motorcycles has risen from only 2% to 18%; and many more of the poorest households now have refrigerators, televisions and stoves.
4)Households have changed their dietary patterns in ways that are consistent with poverty reduction. Even the least advantaged families in Pakistan have moved towards a more diverse diet, with a greater consumption of dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables. Not only has their diet become more diverse, households also spend a smaller fraction of their total income on food items, preferring instead to spend more on nonfood items such as housing, utilities, education, health care and consumer goods, including leisure goods.
5)What accounts for the gap between people’s perceptions of rising poverty and the evidence presented above is the relative lack of improvement in basic public services, or a perception that there is too much corruption, or that only the wealthy and connected can get good jobs or set up businesses. Perhaps there is a sense that the gap between the rich and poor is growing.
6)The government’s decision to set a new poverty line for Pakistan is extremely encouraging in this context. It was also necessary given the robust decline in poverty based on the old line.
7)The new line, which uses an improved methodology, sets a minimum consumption threshold of Rs.3030 per person per month.
This translates to between Rs.18,000 and Rs. 21,000 per month for a household at the poverty line, allowing nearly 30% of the population or close to 60 million people to be targeted for pro-poor and inclusive development policies—thus setting a much higher bar for inclusive development.
8)Things have not improved on key issues like child stunting or schooling or jobs, which will determine what the country’s future looks like. The true fruits of poverty reduction will only be fully evident when the quality of public service delivery and the quality of governance rise to meet the growing needs of the population, and key services are accessible to all Pakistanis.
Photo credit: Visual News Associates / World Bank