Archive for poverty line

Growth, Inflation & Poverty (24-III-09)

Posted in 03 - Marzo, Año 2009 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2009 by Farid Matuk

The most common approach to lowering poverty rates is to have high economic growth, but recent evidence from Peru disputes this result, pointing out that high growth rates could be canceled out by high inflation rates, with as a consequence high growth rates and higher poverty rates.

Measuring poverty has many tools from the most elemental to the most sophisticated; data available speaks of the degree of statistical development of each county, as well the willingness of each government to finance surveys that expose the painful reality of the poor.

The simplest method consists of a poverty line in US dollars, being US$ 2 per day a popular threshold. The conventional problem with this value is different purchasing power of US$ 2 in different countries, the World Bank has tried to solve this problem with a successful world-wide effort to measure PPP (purchasing power parity) for each country and therefore now it is possible to have US$ 2 PPP for each country. But a large limitation of this approach is that rural areas – where the poor live- have been excluded because the PPP was build with domestic CPI (consumer price index), which by definition excludes rural areas.

A second approach, also pioneered by the World Bank, is a poverty survey, well known as Living Standard Measurement Survey (LSMS). A medium size survey (around 5,000 households) is applied in urban and rural areas of any country, with a strong emphasis in food and beverage consumption (as source of calories), plus expenses in other major items of any consumption basket. The main result of this approach is to obtain a poverty line in domestic currency for any given country.

The main pitfall of this approach is the lack of transparency of the assumptions taken for producing a poverty line. Almost every country produces data tabulates; most of them data base access; and almost none computer code applied. The computer code written is essential to identify is a systematic bias have been applied for the published poverty line, as well to learn all arbitrary decision taken on the steps described below.

Step 1: How to define an average poor household? Usually the average is in the half poor of the sample, but there is no international standard to identify it. If the mean poor household is closer to the median household, the final poverty line will be high compare to a mean poor household who is far from the median household.

Step 2: How to define a vicinity of the average poor? After a mean poor household was identified, vicinity must be defined. This could be one tenth, one fifth, one fourth or one third of the sample, and again there is no international standard. For a larger vicinity, a lower poverty line is found, and vice versa.

Step 3: How to define a basket of food and beverages for the extreme poverty line? After steps 1 and 2 are done, the researcher must choose which goods will be taken in account for valorizing the extreme poverty line, which is made setting a price for each product chosen. The exclusion criterion is arbitrary and may produce biases in any direction, according the price of the excluded products.

Step 4: How to deflate prices spatially? Since the survey is applied nation-wide, there are areas were food and beverages are non-market items, because the households in rural areas have an economy of subsistence, where they are producers and consumers at the same time. Theoretically there is many options to imputed prices, but since computer code is not public, a source of bias could be easily masked.

Step 5: How to measure an Engel coefficient for the extreme poverty line? After the extreme poverty line is obtained, it is necessary to produce a total poverty line, which must include non-calorie goods and services. While again, there is a large literature on this subject, without the computer code is impossible to analyze if the poverty line has a bias that overestimates or underestimates real poverty.

Besides these limitations, a poverty line is measured with a survey, and a poverty basket is designed to monitor poverty evolution. All problems of a conventional Laspeyres index are valid, but certainly a national poverty line is better than a US$ 2 PPP line because this measurement includes rural areas, where most of the poor used to live.

The UN MDG (United Nations Millennium Development Goals) has several goals, where Goal 1 is “Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger”, Target 1.C is “Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger”, Indicator 1.8 is “Prevalence of underweight children under five years of age” and Indicator 1.9 is “Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption”.

While Target 1.A and Target 1.B for Goal 1 are related to economic conditions of the poor, Target 1.C is related to biological and anthropometric characteristics of the poor. The main advantage of indicators for Target 1.C is that fewer assumptions are required for its measurement, therefore less built-in steps for biases.

For Indicator 1.8, the most common statistical device is the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) which is funded by United States International Development Agency (USAID) around the world. The traditional design is a large scale sample around 20,000, which allows to measure demographic and heath variables, applied in intervals of 5 years. A new approach, which has Peru as pilot country started in 2004, sampling every year 6,000 households in a five year plan; this new design is able to produce statistical results for key variables with low variance, and for other variables in 5-year average.

For Indicator 1.9, a World Bank’s LSMS could be used in order to measure caloric intake and caloric needs for each household and from both figures the percentage of population below minimum intake could be obtained.

The graphs below are for Peru where Indicator 1.9 is plotted with inflation in the first and with growth in the second.

Poverty & Inflation (2004 - 2008)

Poverty & Inflation (2004 - 2008)

Poverty & Growth (2004 - 2008)

Poverty & Growth (2004 - 2008)

Starting May 2003, Peru was applying a LSMS in monthly basis with an annual target of 20,000 households. This new approach has sampling difficulties that were solve through a technical cooperation program with Statistics Canada, who did the sampling for the first year, and subsequent years were done by Peru’s statistical agency.

For monetary poverty results, an annual sample is cumulated and then a poverty line in domestic currency is obtained as described above. The first result was measured for May 2003 – April 2004, and subsequent results have been published for calendar years.

But the main advantage of this design is to obtain quarterly results for caloric poverty as defined by UN MDG Indicator 1.9. In the graphs above, the bars are annual moving average for caloric poverty, as well economic growth and consumer inflation. The spreadsheet to redo the graphs is available here and was obtained from official sources as described below.

The quarterly results are available in PDF on the web site of Peru’s Statistical Agency, first step is to click in “Boletines” on the left side panel, then to click on “Condiciones de Vida” also on the left side panel, and download the PDF files for each calendar quarter since 2007, and for each moving quarter since 2003.

The other two variables, economic growth and consumer inflation are taken from the web site of Peru’s Central Bank, economic growth is obtained from real quarterly national accounts, with the rate of growth of the moving average of four quarters compared with previous fourth quarters of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Consumer Inflation have been built from the implicit deflator for private consumption; in order to obtain this index, the private consumption in the nominal quarterly national accounts, is divided by the private consumption in the real quarterly national accounts. The rate of growth follows same procedure for economic growth.

An examination of both graphs offers a clear example that GDP growth by itself will not reduce poverty, and that the inflation level is a more critical tool for fighting poverty. Therefore low growth with low inflation reduces poverty at a steady rate, while high growth with high inflation increases poverty at a steady rate.

  • Econometric Analysis

Besides this graphical analysis, an econometric one is feasible and some results are presented below. In first place, the sampling period for the analysis is the whole period for available quarterly measurement of caloric poverty; this is from 2003 Q3 to 2008 Q4, with a total of 22 observations. Data for economic growth and consumer inflation is available quarterly since 1980.

Caloric poverty (CALP) is the percentage of population who lacks the minimum calorie intake; economic growth (GDP) is the difference of logarithm of real GDP in any quarter to similar in previous year; and consumer inflation has same mathematical transformation with the deflator of private consumption (DPC).

The model to be estimated is quite simple, with a perturbation component that fulfill classical assumption for error term of normal distribution, serial independence, and homocedasticty:

CALP{t} = BETA0 + BETA1*DPC{t} + BETA2*GDP{t-1} + U{t}

The data could be found here, the RATS source code could be found here, and the RATS output file could be found here.

An initial regression was tried with GDP impact in same period, but GDP lagged one period showed a better result. Therefore changes in inflation have a faster impact on poverty than growth rate, which is not surprising that a nominal variable has faster impact than a real variable.

The best result provides BETA1 and BETA2 coefficients with null hypothesis of zero value rejected at 99% confidence, when the first observation of the sample is excluded, having as result a total of 20 observations for the analysis.

Another important result also showed in the output file is that null hypothesis of BETA1 and BETA2 having similar value with opposite sign is always accepted, with several sampling periods. This allows conclude that lowing inflation has the same impact that increasing growth rate.

Finally, the econometric evidence reaffirms what was intuitive on the graphs. Not only economic growth matters for fighting poverty, also matters low inflation in equal degree.


Garcia takes power facing Peru poverty “time bomb”

Posted in 3 Cables with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2009 by Farid Matuk


By Robin Emmott  |  July 26, 2006

PUNO, Peru (Reuters) – President-elect Alan Garcia takes office on Friday warning Peru is a “time bomb” that could explode into crippling protests if his government cannot combine its pro-business agenda with cutting chronic poverty.

Garcia, who is anxious to make amends for his disastrous first term in 1985-1990 that sparked economic collapse, faces the huge challenge of delivering the benefits of Peru’s unprecedented economic growth since 2002, while keeping international bondholders happy with a careful fiscal policy.

Poor Peruvians make up half the country’s 27 million population, especially in the southern Andes bordering Bolivia, and most did not vote for Garcia. They are impatient for jobs, access to clean drinking water and schools and hospitals.

“We’ll give Garcia six months to show some results. If nothing’s happened, we’ll start the protests,” said Luis Vilcapaza, who represents some 100,000 farmers in Peru’s southern Andes province of Puno.

Investors are keen to avoid the kind of political instability that almost toppled outgoing President Alejandro Toledo in 2004 and take advantage of Peru’s oil, gas and mineral wealth. Peru is the world’s No. 3 copper-producing nation and aims to export natural gas to Mexico from 2010.

Garcia’s presidential win in June was by a slim margin, giving him a weak mandate in a fractured congress.

His left-leaning American Popular Revolutionary Alliance party, known as APRA, is in the minority, while the party of losing presidential candidate Ollanta Humala has promised fierce opposition from its 45 seats in congress, nine more than


“We face a time bomb because during Toledo’s term, the economy grew to benefit only 30 percent of the population,” Garcia said in a speech this month to residents of a shanty town on the edge of Lima.

“We will create economic progress that will allow us to confront these time bombs.”

Peruvians in the south say they want the kind of economic nationalism favored by Venezuela’s anti-U.S. President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian leader Evo Morales, not policies supported by Wall Street such as privatization.


They say that is the only way to ease social ills in a country where the gross domestic product per capita is lower than in 1975.

About 62 percent of young Peruvians are poor, according to a study by the U.N. Population Fund and the Peruvian health ministry.

The number of Peruvian women who die during childbirth is one of the highest levels in Latin America. One in three women in Peru’s jungle region become pregnant before age 20.

Malaria, tuberculosis and sexual violence against women also are all major problems in Peru.

“Garcia urgently needs to help the young,” outgoing Health Minister Pilar Mazetti told Reuters. “Otherwise we’ll see frustrations boil over into protests, the formation of gangs and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.”

Farid Matuk, outgoing head of Peru’s National Statistics Institute, said the solution is not in faster economic growth, as Garcia has pledged, because the economy only needs to grow above 3.3 percent annually to alleviate poverty.

Rather, Garcia should aim to develop the economy away from its historic dependence on mineral exports by helping small businesses and improving the way public funds are spent.

Peru’s mining regions will receive a record $800 million in 2006 from royalties and taxes, equivalent to slightly more than the government’s total annual health and education budget. But locals and miners say the money is not being properly spent.

“We need to see jobs and better schools, working hospitals,” said 43-year-old rickshaw driver Gabriel Tipo, a widower in Puno with five children. “If things don’t get better, I think Humala should stage a coup and take over government.”

20060713 – Farid Matuk dice que intentan destruir sistema de monitoreo de pobreza

Posted in 24 Horas with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2009 by Farid Matuk

El jefe del Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática (INEI), Farid Matuk, señaló que las críticas emitidas por representantes apristas en relación con la metodología que se utiliza para el cálculo de la pobreza, reflejan la intención malévola de destruir el sistema de monitoreo de la pobreza que se desarrolla al presente.

 En conferencia de prensa realizada, Matuk señaló que el trasfondo en los cuestionamientos es impedir que se informe, junto con los resultados de éxito de la economía, los números de la terrible realidad social que atraviesa el país.

Dijo que la información trimestral que produce el INEI sobre la incidencia de la pobreza a nivel nacional desde el presente año, ha sido el tema que originó la serie de ataques personales lanzados tanto por el ex Ministro de Economía, Luis Alva Castro, como por el encargado de la Comisión de Transferencia del APRA y ex presidente del Banco de la Nación, Milton Guerrero.

En una entrevista televisiva propalada anoche, Guerrero admitió que desconoce el tema estadístico pero, dijo, tiene amigos y asesores que sí saben.

Matuk advirtió que “se trata de impedir que el Perú siga contando con información detallada, es decir, trimestral a nivel nacional y anual a nivel de provincia, de cómo viven los peruanos, y retroceder a circunstancias donde el Estado no medía la condición social”.

Explicó que el Perú cuenta con tres formas de medir el índice de pobreza. El primero se realiza a través de la Línea de Pobreza, que se estima a través del recojo de información sobre el monto mínimo de dinero que necesita una persona para vivir.

La segunda, continuó, corresponde a la medición de la pobreza según la ingesta de calorías (Déficit Calórico) de las personas, para ello se toma como referencia las 2100 calorías que señala la Organización Mundial de la Salud como la cantidad que necesita una persona adulta promedio para vivir. La tercera forma es la que se refiere al número de Necesidades Básicas Insatisfechas (NBI), y es la que recoge información sobre la calidad de vida (vivienda y educación) de las personas.

Si lo que se busca es conocer la evolución de la ingesta de alimentos de la población, es decir, los resultados de pobreza por déficit calórico para ese mismo periodo, se tiene que ésta se ha mantenido constante a nivel nacional, pasando de 33,3% de la población en el 2001 IV-trim. a 33,0% en el 2006 I-trim, explicó

Mientras que la medición según las Necesidades Básicas Insatisfechas, que debido al Censo Continuo (ENCO) se encuentra disponible desde el primer trimestre de este año por departamento, la pobreza por NBI alcanza al 48% de la población.

Farid Matuk señaló además, que según cita el Banco Mundial, el sistema estadístico peruano es el más exhaustivo, completo y detallado de Latinoamérica.

Agregó que la ejecución de los censos continuos, aplicación metodológica que permite recoger información sobre las Necesidades Básicas Insatisfechas (NBI), ha sido reconocida por estadísticos europeos de las Naciones Unidas.

Tras la discusión en Ginebra en el 2005, las mejores oficinas estadísticas del mundo se reunieron en junio del 2006 y aprobaron el documento de “Economic and Social Council” de las Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU), que incluye los censos continuos entre las seis alternativas metodológicas que utilizan los países para realizar una operación censal. El Perú desarrolla junto con EE.UU. este diseño.

Sobre la auditoría solicitada por representantes del APRA para revisar el cálculo de la pobreza, señaló que no le preocupa pues una evaluación mucho más exhaustiva y rigurosa ha sido el trabajar de manera permanente con la cooperación técnica internacional y ser respaldados por su experiencia.

De otro lado, dijo que de haberse utilizado la misma metodología que aplicó su antecesor, Félix Murillo, jefe del INEI entre el 10 de mayo de 1989 (gobierno aprista) y el 15 de diciembre de 2000 (gobierno de transición), la pobreza se habría reducido en 20 puntos porcentuales entre 1993 y el 2005, lo que significaría que solo el 34% de la población se encontraría en pobreza. “Resultado que no es aceptable”, dijo.

PERU: Upbeat Poverty Stats Questioned

Posted in 3 Cables with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2009 by Farid Matuk

By Milagros Salazar

LIMA, May 29 (IPS) – The Peruvian government has announced that poverty fell by 5.2 percent in a year and forecasts that by 2015, less than 10 percent of the population will be below the poverty line. But experts and provincial governors cast doubt on these figures, given the unmet basic needs of peasant families.

“These poverty figures show that Peru’s economic model is working,” Finance Minister Luis Carranza said on Wednesday after announcing that according to the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI), the proportion of people living in poverty dropped from 44.5 percent of the population in 2006 to 39.3 percent in 2007.

This means that nearly 1.4 million Peruvians have escaped poverty, and is an improvement on the 42 percent poverty rate projected by the authorities. President Alan García celebrated the result, saying that he had not been over-optimistic when he promised that by the end of his term, in 2011, poverty would be reduced to 30 percent.

“I can tell the country that my aspirations go even further and that by 2015 we will have a poverty rate of less than 10 percent of the population, which means that Peru will no longer be a Third World country,” said the president, making a forecast that exceeds his five-year term of office.

Meanwhile, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty shrank from 16.1 percent to 13.7 percent of the population. The country’s Andean highlands, as opposed to the coastal and Amazon jungle regions of Peru, are home to 67.5 percent of the extreme poor.

The results of the 2007 census, to be released on Jun. 9, will give a more precise idea of how many people have been lifted out of poverty, and what extrapolations can be made, said the head of INEI, Renán Quispe.

President García did not make allowances in his calculations for population growth, which is occurring at a rate of 1.3 percent a year. According to the latest official statistics, 27.2 million people live in Peru.

But Farid Matuk, a former head of INEI, said that the figures given out by the authorities were not credible.

“In spite of the nine percent gross domestic product growth posted in 2007, the García administration could not possibly have managed to reduce poverty by nearly 10 percent in two years, when the previous government of President Alejandro Toledo only achieved a fall of six points in five years,” Matuk told IPS.

The expert also said the García administration has manipulated the figures by increasing the 2005 poverty rate by nearly four percentage points, from 44.5 to 48 percent of the population, by changing the method used to measure poverty.

“These results are completely illogical. I suspect that urban incomes have been inflated in order to show this reduction in poverty,” Matuk said.

That would explain that poverty was reported to have fallen most in urban areas, from 31.2 to 25.7 percent.

But the figures show apparent improvement in rural areas as well. Between 2005 and 2006 rural poverty fell by only 1.6 percent, but in 2007 it was reduced by 4.7 percent.

The highlands region showed the least progress in fighting rural poverty, with a total reduction of only 3.2 percent, while in coastal rural areas poverty dropped by up to 11 percent.

In Matuk’s view, the INEI experts may have overvalued the prices assigned to the food grown by rural families

Since many families, mainly in the rural areas, grow their own food or provide their own essential services, such as water, INEI assigns these goods a value which, in Matuk’s opinion, should be made public, in order to assess the reliability of their figures.

Based on this method, INEI set the poverty line at 229.4 soles (82 dollars) a month per person, and the extreme poverty line at 121.2 soles (43 dollars) a month. Persons consuming less than these amounts are considered poor, or extremely poor, respectively.

“It’s important to know what price was assigned to some foods like eggs and potatoes, and also, for example, what value was established for ‘self-rent’ in marginalised urban areas. So far none of this is known, so the poverty lines are a mystery,” he said.

In response to the criticism, INEI published this information on its web site on Tuesday, and experts are now analysing it. INEI emphasised that it had received advice from the World Bank and several research centres in drawing up its report.

“The results are in compliance with international guidelines, and most importantly, they are transparent,” said World Bank regional director Felipe Jaramillo.

Matuk said that one way of demonstrating that the economic growth achieved between 2006 and 2007 had no impact on the living conditions of the majority of the population is that hunger had only been reduced by just over one percent — “in other words, hardly at all” — over the same period.

For his part, Pedro Francke, an economist at the Pontificia Catholic University, concluded that the method used by INEI did not take into account higher food prices, and was only showing one side of poverty. He said the institute should use a much broader form of measurement that is not only monetary.

“The quality of health and education services that are provided to the population should be measured, as well as whether or not people have identity documents, and what access they have to democracy, for example,” said Francke.

Several provincial governors expressed doubts that poverty reduction in their area could have been as great as the statistics suggest, especially in provinces where historically over 70 percent of the people were considered poor.

“The statistics must have been manipulated, because people are still protesting in the streets due to the fact that they are not seeing the benefits of economic growth. INEI does not measure poverty in villages and towns in the rural areas, where the extreme poor are concentrated,” Hernán Fuentes, the governor of Puno, told IPS.

In his southern Andean region, poverty fell from 76.3 percent to 67.2 percent, according to the official figures.

The poverty rate also fell in Ayacucho, another southern Andean province, from 78.4 to 68.3 percent. “We were sure that poverty had fallen by three or four percent, but not to such an extent. I hope it’s true,” said Governor Ernesto Molina.

Loreto, in the northeast, is the province that apparently made the most progress, with a spectacular 11.7 percent drop in the poverty rate. Governor Iván Vásquez said that such a reduction was indeed possible, but mainly in large cities like Iquitos, the provincial capital, where over half of the population lives.

In Cuzco, however, the poverty rate rose from 49.9 to 57.4 percent. “The social programmes aren’t working, because out of every 10 soles the government allocates to fight malnutrition or poverty, six are swallowed up by bureaucracy,” said Governor Hugo González.

Huancavelica remains the poorest province, with 85.7 percent of the population below the poverty line, after a reduction of barely three percent. ( END/2008 )