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Poverty correlates and indicator-based targeting in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union

  • Grootaert, Christiaan
  • Braithwaite, Jeanine

The authors compare poverty in three Eastern European countries (Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland) with poverty in three countries of the former Soviet Union (Estonia, Kyrgyz Republic, and Russia). They find striking differences between the post-Soviet and Eastern European experiences with poverty and targeting. Among patterns detected: a)Poverty in Eastern Europe is significantly lower than in former Soviet Union countries. b) Rural poverty is greater than urban poverty. c) In Eastern Europe there is a strong correlation between poverty incidence and the number of children in a household; in the former Soviet Union countries this is less pronounced, except in Russia. d) There is a gender and age dimension to poverty in some countries. In single-person households, especially of elder women, the poverty rate is very high (except in Poland) and poverty is more severe. The same is true in pensioner households (except in Poland). In Poland the pension system has adequate reach. e) Poverty rates are highest among people who have lost their connection with the labor market and live on social transfers (other than pensions) or other nonearned income. But through sheer mass, the largest group of poor people is the working poor -- especially workers with little education (primary education or less) or outdated vocational or technical education. Only those with special skills or university education escape poverty in great numbers, thanks to the demand for their skills from the newly emerging private sector. f) The poverty gap is remarkably uniform in Eastern European countries, especially Hungary and Poland, suggesting that social safety nets have prevented the emergence of deep pockets of poverty. This is much less true in the former Soviet Union, where those with the highest poverty rate also have the largest poverty gap. In the short to medium term, creating employment in the informal sector will generate a larger payoff than creating jobs in the formal (still to be privatized) sectors, so programs to help (prospective) entrepreneurs should take center stage in poverty alleviation programs.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1942.

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Date of creation: 31 Jul 1998
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1942
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  1. Chase, R.S., 1995. "Women's Labor Force Participation During and After Communism: A Case Study of the Czech Republic and Slovakia," Papers 768, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  2. Evgeny Gavrilenkov & Vincent Koen, 1994. "How Large Was the the Output Collapse in Russia? Alternative Estimates and Welfare Implications," IMF Working Papers 94/154, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Klugman, Jeni & Braithwaite, Jeanine, 1998. "Poverty in Russia during the Transition: An Overview," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 13(1), pages 37-58, February.
  4. Grootaert, Christiaan, 1995. "Poverty and social transfers in Poland," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1440, The World Bank.
  5. Glewwe, P., 1990. "Investigating The Determinants Of Household Welfare In Cote D'Ivoire," Papers 71, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
  6. Simon Commander & Andrei Tolstopiatenko & Ruslan Yemtsov, 1999. "Channels of redistribution: Inequality and poverty in the Russian transition," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 7(2), pages 411-447, July.
  7. Alderman, Harold & Garcia, Marito, 1993. "Poverty, household food security, and nutrition in rural Pakistan:," Research reports 96, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  8. Glewwe, P. & Hall, G., 1995. "Who is Most Vulnerable to Macroeconomic Shocks? Hypotheses Tests Using Panel Data from Peru," Papers 117, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
  9. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kaliberda, Aleksander, 1996. "Integrating the unofficial economy into the dynamics of post-socialist economies : a framework of analysis and evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1691, The World Bank.
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