Interview with Haris Gazdar

Author: Haris Gazdar
Publication Year : 2021

What are the binding constraints that Pakistan has not succeeded to reduce poverty on consistent basis? It depends on how you define poverty, and which data you look at, and in which way. There has been a steady decline in the conventional head-count ratio of poverty over the decades. This standard measurement is based on comparing the distribution of consumption expenditure with a rupee poverty line. There are resilient pockets of poverty even by this measure. But there are questions (here and in India – both use broadly similar methods) on the reliability of this approach over time. One important conundrum is the resilience of food insecurity measured both through the consumption expenditure approach, as well as through other, more direct methods. It has been speculated that the increase in consumption expenditure over the decades is, at least in part, due to the commodification of essential basic needs which previously did not require very much out-ofpocket spending: private health, private education, rising transportation costs, utility bills etc. So it is possible that consumption expenditure increases and corresponding declines in poverty headcount ratios are, in part, illusory.