WB: Kazakhstan has lowest poverty rates in Central Asia (Exclusive)

WB: Kazakhstan has lowest poverty rates in Central Asia (Exclusive)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct.26

By Nargiz Sadikhova - Trend:

Kazakhstan has the lowest rates of poverty in Central Asia, William Seitz, World Bank (WB) economist, WB Regional office in Central Asia told Trend in an interview.

According to Seitz, poverty by all measures, both national and international, has been falling.

"The share of people in poverty is lower and, importantly in a region where the population continues to grow quickly, even the absolute number of people living in poverty has fallen. This is a great success. However, one concern we have is that the pace of progress is slowing down throughout the region," he said.

He noted that these days, people’s incomes are not rising as quickly as before, and this slowdown is pushing further into the future the day that poverty will be eradicated in Central Asia.

"The highest rates of poverty in the region are concentrated in rural and remote parts of the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, and to a lesser extent, Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan has the lowest rates of poverty in Central Asia, but has also struggled to push the rate below what was achieved in 2013. Since then, the poverty rate has remained above six percent in Kazakhstan," Seitz added.

He further added, that in many ways, poverty in Central Asia is just as much a "rural/urban" phenomenon as it is a "country" phenomenon.

"There are three large centers of economic activity where most of the middle class is concentrated in the region: Tashkent, Almaty, and Nur-Sultan. Bishkek and Dushanbe are also locally much more prosperous than the rest of the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, respectively," Seitz said.

For the World Bank’s poverty measurement work in Central Asia, WB starts with nationally representative surveys that ask people to report all of the goods and services they have consumed or purchased. Based on this information, we calculate the total budget of each household in the survey.

WB then adjusts for the number of people who live in the household, account for inflation using the national consumer price index, and adjust for differences in the cost of living between countries (using what is called the purchasing power parity adjustment factor).

"This procedure allows us to then count the number of people who are above or below the poverty lines we use. For upper middle income countries like Kazakhstan, we use a threshold of $5.5 per person, per day, in terms of 2011 PPP. For lower middle income countries like the Kyrgyz Republic, we use a threshold of $3.2 per person per day," he said.

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Follow the author on twitter: @nargiz_sadikh

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