South Asia

South Asia

The share of people in poverty declined moderately through the 1990s, but not enough to reduce the absolute number of poor. Household survey data indicate limited growth in average consumption in rural areas, reflecting slow growth in agriculture. Urban poverty appears to have declined twice as fast as rural poverty.

But poverty data in India are subject to considerable uncertainty. Its private consumption, as measured in the national accounts, grew about three times faster in the 1990s than household consumption, as measured by the National Sample Survey. Discrepancies are to be expected, as the two sources track different aggregates. Moreover, the survey data tend to understate the consumption of higher-income households. But the size of this difference and the slowness of poverty reduction revealed in the survey data are difficult to account for, particularly given the improvement in human development indicators. So more accurate data could indicate faster poverty reductions than our current estimates.


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