Rural Poverty in Pakistan: Some Recent Evidence

Sohail J. Malik


Pakistan's growth record over the past two and a half decades
has been impressive. Real income per person has almost doubled. This
growth has been spurred on by a vigorous manufacturing sector, sustained
by an innovative agricultural sector, and aided in the 1970s by
large-scale remittances from Pakistanis in the Middle East. This is no
me~ record considering the high 3 percent per annum growth in
population. Open unemployment has remained low. Furthermore, increasing
real wagerates, brought on by the expanding domestic economy, the strong
demand for agricultural labour following the green revolution in the
earlier years, and migration of rural workers to the Middle East in the
1970s have managed to spread the gains from this growth. There is a
consensus of opinion that this growth has translated into declining
levels of poverty especially since the late 1970s [see, for example, de
Kruijk and Leeuwen (1985); Malik (1988), Ahmad and Ludlow (1989) and
Ercelawn (1989)]. Most studies on poverty in Pakistan are limited to
estimating the head-count ratios for single years based on the available
Household Income and Expenditure Surveys (HIES); the most recent studies
use the 19S4-85 data set. The earlier studies were additioinally limited
by the grouped nature of the published data from these surveys and by
the somewhat arbitrary basis on which poverty lines were set. Only
recently, with the easier access to the original household level data
tapes and the improving quality of the data sets, has more detailed work
been undertaken.

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