ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Is Extreme Poverty Declining?

Findings from Agricultural Households in India

The latest round of the Situation Ass­essment Survey of Agricultural Households is used to calculate income poverty instead of commenting on consumption poverty across non-comparable data sets. Using three different poverty lines, it is demonstrated that at least 21.1% of agricultural households are extremely income poor. Though the so-called “Great Indian Poverty Debate 2.0,” with statistical assu­mptions on consumption distribution or relative prices, may provide certain estimates of poverty, those seem to be disproportionate to the actualities of the extremely poor in recent times.

A recent debate has taken a centre stage regarding the trend of pov-erty ­levels in India. Since 2011–12, there has been no official Consumer Expen­diture Survey (CES) conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) which is why attempts are now being made to estimate poverty levels using different statistical techniques. For ins­tance, Subramanian (2019) observed a rise in poverty by 4%, from 31% in 2011–12 to 35% during 2017–18 using the leaked data on grouped distribution of consumption expenditure. This study had used the Rangarajan poverty line to report on the poverty estimate.

Using 2019–20 rounds of Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) consumption data, Mehrotra and Parida (2021) found 25.9% as the head count ratio (HCR) for overall India. Using the Tendulkar poverty line for reaching an estimate of HCR, this study observes a rise in rural poverty, from 25.7% to 30.5% translating roughly to 270 million rural poor in 2019–20. While the HCR has also increased from 13.7% in 2011–12 to 15.5% in urban India, translating roughly to 71 million urban poor. All references of 2011–12 in this study refer to the NSSO CES. A cauti­onary critique therefore must be mentioned: information collected on consumption data in PLFS 2019–20 is not exactly comparable with the NSSO CES.

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Updated On : 4th Dec, 2022
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