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Expert Clarifies Differences in Poverty Statistics

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The number of people living in poverty nationwide, which has been shown to be increasing, doesn’t mean their living conditions are getting worse but instead reflects changes in criteria for measuring poverty.

An expert from the Central Committee on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (CRDPE) made the clarification at a lecture held last week in Vientiane to mark International Day and National Week for Poverty Eradication, which ran from October 17 to 24.

The confusion occurred concerning the figures provided by a report from the Lao Statistics Bureau (LSB) titled “Lao PDR 2015 Census- Based Poverty Map: Province and District Results”.

The report, which was issued during a meeting in July, showed more than 65,000 poor individuals living in Vientiane, which accounted for 8.5 percent of the 772,000 population, while the report disseminated by the capital administration at a session of the Vientiane People’s Council held in May showed only 13 poor families in the capital.

The LSB report map also showed that around 39,000 people in Phongsaly, 105,000 in Huaphan, 95,000 in Luang Prabang, 104,000 in Khammuan, 302,000 in Savannakhet, 183,000 in Saravan, and 164,000 people in Champassak provinces were living in poverty.

A figure unveiled at the lecture showed that about 76,000 families were living  under the poverty line in 2015 accounting for 6.6 percent of all families in the country. Around 456,000 individuals are poor if each family has six members on average.

The number is still lower than the number of poor people in Khammuan and Savannakhet provinces combined, according to the map.

The LSB report map was put together based on the Lao Expenditure and Consumption Survey (LECS), which was conducted in 2012/13 (LECS- 5) and the 2015 Population and Housing Census. LECS-5 covered a sample of more than 8,000 households comprising about 43,000 individuals.

The authors of the Lao PDR 2015 Census-Based Poverty Map said in the report that LECS-5 was the most appropriate in terms of timing and also collected information similar to the Census questionnaire, which was relatively detailed.

However, they said the questionnaire contained no information on either household incomes or household expenditure, but covered, at individual level, demography, education, economic activities and durable goods ownership. At the household level, dwelling characteristics were covered.

Regarding the difference between the number of poor people indicated by the LSB report map, which is much higher than that stated in the lecture, Head of the CRDPE’s Office of Planning and International Cooperation, Mr. Chit Chanvisay, asked those present not to panic.

“This is not about people who have returned to poverty, but this means the standards for measuring poverty have been improved,” he said.

In the past, if a man had a bicycle he was recognised as poor, while if that man had a motorbike today he would complain he was poor, Mr. Chit said.

“Our country accepting new, higher-standard targets means the country has been improved,” he added.

 

Source: Vientiane Times