Role of Growth and Inequality in Explaining Changes in Poverty in Pakistan

Author: Talat Anwar
JEL Classification : I300, I320, O150, O400
Publication Year : 2010

Changes in the extent of poverty are affected not only by growth in the mean income but also by changes in the distribution of income. The effect of these two factors can be separately measured by decomposing the total change in poverty. In this context, this paper uses new tools to quantify relative contribution of growth and inequality using the latest available household survey data. The findings of this paper suggest that the role of inequality remained important in mitigating the adverse effects of growth on poverty during the first period, 1998- 99 to 2001-02. Alternatively, the role of growth has been fundamental in reducing absolute poverty in the second period, 2001-02 to 2004-05. Poverty would have been further reduced, had the distribution not worsened during this period. The policy implication is that while pursuit of growth as a strategy is important for poverty reduction in Pakistan, the contribution of redistribution in favour of the poor should not be ignored if the effect of growth on poverty reduction is to be enhanced. Thus, the major challenge is to pursue a poverty reduction strategy that is based on growth with redistribution.