Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Mass Poverty in Pakistan – A Further Study

Despite great development efforts made in Pakistan1 during the last twenty-five years, the extent of poverty in the country has remained shockingly great and the living standards of the masses alarmingly low. The interest in the study of the mass poverty problem is of recent origin in Pakistan. Earlier studies have examined the problem mainly from the point of view of an equitable distribution of income and wealth and their analysis has been principally based on their relative shares. However, one study [6] deals with the specific problem of mass poverty in Pakistan, taking into account the absolute levels. The study, done by Naseem, analyses consumption expenditure of the masses by making use of the Household Income and Expenditure Survey [9] data for the years 1963-64, 1966-67, 1968-69 and 1969-70. Since then, many changes have occurred in Pakistan’s economy as a result of which the per capita GNP declined during the last two years covered by this study, viz. 1970-71 and 1971-72. Since expenditure, as a measure of welfare, may not be very appropriate in a year in which income declines, for part of the expenditure might be financed by dissavings and sales of assets, the analysis for this paper is based on both expenditure and income levels. Moreover, as the estimation of poverty levels, to a great extent, involves, besides other things, value judgment, it is more appropriate to specify a range of income and expenditure values rather than specific values. For this reason, the study makes use of four levels of income and expenditures, instead of the two adopted in Naseem’s study [6], below each of which the number of the poor is estimated.

Talat Alauddin

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