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Pakistan’s Ranking in Social Development: Have We Always Been Backward?


  • Aisha Ghaus-Pasha

    (Social Policy and Development Centre, Karachi.)

  • Naeem Ahmed

    (Social Policy and Development Centre, Karachi.)


Consensus is emerging between development thinkers and practitioners that social progress is a necessary pre-condition for sustained economic growth. Social development leads to higher levels of literacy, better health standards and overall improvement in the society’s living conditions. In fact, empirical evidence suggests that there is a two-way relationship between economic growth and social development [Ghaus-Pasha et al. (1998)]. Economic growth leads to higher revenues for government and higher per capita income, encouraging both public and private spendings on human development. Improvements in social indicators feedback as higher economic growth through enhanced productivity for labour and capital. In other words, well-developed human capital makes a significant contribution to economic growth which, in turn, offers improved welfare and better living conditions. However, if there is a breakdown in this chain and economic development is not translated into social development, then the pace of economic development eventually suffers. Pakistan is an example of a country where this chain has broken. Despite moderate economic growth of about 5 percent during the last decade or so, the state of social indicators leaves a lot to be desired. Currently, the female literacy rate is 33 percent, being somewhat higher for males at 56 percent; primary school enrolment for females is 55 percent, for males 78 percent; and infant mortality rate is 105 out of 1000. Today, Pakistan is ranked 138 in the human development index by the UNDP (1999) among 174 countries. The purpose of this paper is to see the state of social development in Pakistan in the international context.

Suggested Citation

  • Aisha Ghaus-Pasha & Naeem Ahmed, 1999. "Pakistan’s Ranking in Social Development: Have We Always Been Backward?," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 38(4), pages 739-754.
  • Handle: RePEc:pid:journl:v:38:y:1999:i:4:p:739-754

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. A.F. Aisha Ghaus & Hafiz A. Pasha & Rafia Ghaus, 1996. "Social Development Ranking of Districts of Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 35(4), pages 593-614.
    2. repec:pje:journl:article1982winii is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:pje:journl:article1990sumiv is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Adelman, Irma & Dalton, George, 1971. "A Factor Analysis of Modernisation in Village India," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 81(323), pages 563-579, September.
    5. Haroon Jamal & Salman Malik, 1988. "Shifting Patterns in Developmental Rank Ordering: A Case Study of the Districts of Sind Province," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 27(2), pages 159-182.
    6. Haroon Jamal & Amir Jahan Khan, 2003. "The Changing Profile of Regional Inequality," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 42(2), pages 113-123.
    7. Farhad Noorbakhsh, 1998. "The human development index: some technical issues and alternative indices," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(5), pages 589-605.
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