Mass Poverty in Pakistan - A Further Study

Talat Alauddin


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 equit¬able 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 expendi¬ture and
income levels. Moreover, as the estimation of poverty levels, to a great
extent, involves, besides other things, value judgment, it is more
appro¬priate 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

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