The European Journal of Comparative Economics
ISSN: 1824-2979
Year: 2009, June. Volume: 6 - Issue: 1

Vulnerability to Poverty in select Central Asian Countries

Raghbendra Jha ; Tu Dang

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Start page: 17 - End page: 50

Poverty ; Vulnerability ; Cross-section data ; Central Asia
In the extant literature either income or consumption expenditures as measured over short periods of time have been regarded as a proxy for the material well-being of households. However, economists have long recognized that a household's sense of well-being depends not just on its average income or expenditures, but also on the risks it faces and its ability to deal with these risks. Hence vulnerability is a more satisfactory measure of welfare. In this study we used the concept of vulnerability as expected poverty to assess the household vulnerability to poverty in four Central Asian countries: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Except for Tajikistan, headcount poverty and vulnerability rates are significantly different. We also find that vulnerability differs significantly across households by location and selected household characteristics. In this paper we use a simple empirical measurement that allows estimating the headcount vulnerability to poverty using cross-section data. This measurement is based on the strong assumption that households have the same conditional distribution of consumption in a stationary environment. While this approach cannot capture all dimensions of vulnerability, it at least begins to raise the policy issue that vulnerability should be considered alongside poverty.

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