Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Rural Poverty in Pakistan: Some Recent Evidence

Pakistan’s growth record over the past two and a half decadeshas been impressive. Real income per person has almost doubled. Thisgrowth has been spurred on by a vigorous manufacturing sector, sustainedby an innovative agricultural sector, and aided in the 1970s bylarge-scale remittances from Pakistanis in the Middle East. This is nome~ record considering the high 3 percent per annum growth inpopulation. Open unemployment has remained low. Furthermore, increasingreal wagerates, brought on by the expanding domestic economy, the strongdemand for agricultural labour following the green revolution in theearlier years, and migration of rural workers to the Middle East in the1970s have managed to spread the gains from this growth. There is aconsensus of opinion that this growth has translated into declininglevels of poverty especially since the late 1970s [see, for example, deKruijk and Leeuwen (1985); Malik (1988), Ahmad and Ludlow (1989) andErcelawn (1989)]. Most studies on poverty in Pakistan are limited toestimating the head-count ratios for single years based on the availableHousehold Income and Expenditure Surveys (HIES); the most recent studiesuse the 19S4-85 data set. The earlier studies were additioinally limitedby the grouped nature of the published data from these surveys and bythe somewhat arbitrary basis on which poverty lines were set. Onlyrecently, with the easier access to the original household level datatapes and the improving quality of the data sets, has more detailed workbeen undertaken.

Sohail J. Malik

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