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Some aspects of poverty in Sri Lanka : 1985-90

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  • Datt, Gaurav
  • Gunewardena, Dileni

Abstract

The authors characterize poverty in Sri Lanka, using data from two recent household surveys (for 1985-86 and1990-91). Poverty rates in 1990-91 were highest in the rural sector and lowest in the estate sector, with the urban sector in between. Between 1985-86 and 1990-91, national poverty declined modestly, almost entirely because of a fall in rural poverty (although poverty in the estate sector also declined). Agriculture, forestry, and fishing accounted for about 80 percent of the decline in national poverty. Favorable redistribution and growth in rural mean consumption accounted about equally for the decline in rural poverty. During the same period, urban poverty increased. But poverty in Sri Lanka is still largely a rural phenomenon. Nearly half the poor depend on agriculture for livelihood. Another 30 percent depend on other rural nonagricultural activities. Regional variations in poverty are fairly limited. Female-headed households are associated with greater poverty only in the urban sector. Poorer households tend to have higher dependency ratios, fewer years of schooling, lower rates of participation in the labor force, and significantly higher rates of unemployment. Direct transfer benefits from the Food Stamp Program are progressive and have a greater impact on poverty than uniform allocations from the same budget. Economic growth could reduce poverty considerably.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1738.

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Date of creation: 31 Mar 1997
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1738

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Keywords: Environmental Economics&Policies; Poverty Reduction Strategies; Public Health Promotion; Services&Transfers to Poor; Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Poverty Assessment; Achieving Shared Growth; Environmental Economics&Policies; Poverty Reduction Strategies; Poverty Lines;

References

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  1. Sahn, David E & Alderman, Harold, 1996. "The Effect of Food Subsidies on Labor Supply in Sri Lanka," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 125-45, October.
  2. Kakwani, N., 1990. "Testing For Significance Of Poverty Differences; With Application To Cote D'Ivoire," Papers 62, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
  3. Sahn, David E., 1987. "Changes in the living standards of the poor in Sri Lanka during a period of macroeconomic restructuring," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 809-830, June.
  4. Lanjouw, Peter & Ravallion, Martin, 1995. "Poverty and Household Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(433), pages 1415-34, November.
  5. Chaudhuri, Shubham & Ravallion, Martin, 1994. "How well do static indicators identify the chronically poor?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 367-394, March.
  6. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  7. Isenman, Paul, 1980. "Basic needs: The case of Sri Lanka," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 237-258, March.
  8. Shaohua Chen & Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Is poverty increasing in the developing world?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1146, The World Bank.
  9. Kakwani, N., 1990. "Testing For Significance Of Poverty Differences ; With Application To Cote D'Ivoire," Papers 90-3, New South Wales - School of Economics.
  10. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1990. "Regional disparities, targeting, and poverty in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 375, The World Bank.
  11. Glewwe, Paul & van der Gaag, Jacques, 1990. "Identifying the poor in developing countries: Do different definitions matter?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 803-814, June.
  12. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-64, July.
  13. Bhalla, Surjit S & Glewwe, Paul, 1986. "Growth and Equity in Developing Countries: A Reinterpretation of the Sri Lankan Experience," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 1(1), pages 35-63, September.
  14. Aturupane, Harsha & Glewwe, Paul & Isenman, Paul, 1994. "Poverty, Human Development, and Growth: An Emerging Consensus?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 244-49, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Gunewardena, Dileni, 2004. "Improving poverty measurement in Sri Lanka," MPRA Paper 7695, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised May 2005.

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