Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Inter-District Inequalities in Social Service Delivery: A Rationalised Approach towards Funds Disbursement

For a less developed country, Pakistan has experienced a relatively high average per capita growth rate of 2.2 percent, for the period 1950-99 [Easterly (2003)]. Unfortunately, high growth rates have not trickled down sufficiently and the living condition of the general populace leaves a lot to be desired. The UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) report released in 2010, ranked Pakistan at 144th on the HDI, out of 178 countries [Wasif (2010)]. The HDI conceptualises poverty to be a multi-dimensional construct and considers adult literacy and life expectancy to be key indicators of the quality of life. Given, that Pakistan has experienced high growth rates but ranks so poorly on the HDI, clearly indicates that despite economic growth, the country faces serious challenges in social service delivery. The coverage of social services is limited and varies across different regions of the country. Easterly (2003) points out that in terms of adult literacy there is a huge variation across provinces and female literacy is only 3 percent in rural Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa whereas it is 41 percent in urban Sindh. Zaidi (2005) shows that the situation is not much different in case of health outcomes. The study shows that across the country, nearly half of pregnant women suffer from anaemia and 35 percent of children under age five are malnourished. Moreover, the numbers for infant mortality vary across provinces considerably with urban Punjab having an infant mortality of 70.6 per 1,000 live births compared to the 120.6 of urban Balochistan.1

Muhammad Usman Sikander, Syed Ahsan Ahmad Shah