A Poverty Profile of Cambodia

By Nicholas Prescott; Menno Pradhan | Go to book overview

1. INTRODUCTION

Poverty reduction is a central goal of Cambodia’s First Socioeconomic Development Plan, 1996–2000. Better and up-to-date information about the poor is essential to assist the Government in designing effective policies for attacking poverty. Who are the poor? How many poor are there? Where do they live? What are their sources of income? Policies intended to help the poor are unlikely to succeed unless the Government knows who the poor are and how they are likely to respond to public interventions. This report develops a consistent nationwide profile of poverty to support the Government’s effort to strengthen the design and targeting of poverty reduction policies. The poverty profile is based on the first Socio-Economic Survey of Cambodia (SESC) carried out by the National Institute of Statistics in 1993/94 and cosponsered by the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. The SESC collected data from about 5,600 households representing Phnom Penh, other urban, and rural areas in Cambodia.

For policy purposes the most important reason for measuring poverty is not the need for a descriptive number, but to make poverty comparisons in order to target antipoverty programs and monitor development progress. Is poverty higher among certain population groups--rural areas, regions, ethnic minorities--than others? Has poverty decreased over time? Setting a poverty line is a prerequisite for measuring poverty in order to make these poverty comparisons. Unlike most of its neighboring countries, the Royal Government of Cambodia has not yet established a firm basis for setting an official poverty line. This report sets new poverty lines for Cambodia based on standard methods used by the World Bank in poverty estimates for neighboring countries. These poverty lines are based on a benchmark per capita calorie requirement of 2,100 calories per day -- with the composition of the underlying food bundle chosen to be representative of typical consumption patterns in Cambodia -- and they take into account geographic price variations in the cost of the same food basket. Comparing these poverty lines with the distribution of per capita consumption expenditure from the SESC yields poverty estimates for 1993/94.

Section B begins by describing the SESC questionnaire and sampling frame. This is important in interpreting the representativeness of the empirical results because not all areas of Cambodia were included in the sampling frame for the 1993/94 survey. Section C presents basic data on the level and distribution of living standards as measured by per capita household consumption expenditures. Section D then sets new poverty lines for Cambodia using standard World Bank methods. Section E uses these poverty lines to make poverty comparisons for targeting purposes -- assessing differences among regions,

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A Poverty Profile of Cambodia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Foreword v
  • Acknowledgments vi
  • Abstract vii
  • Executive Summary viii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Socio-Economic Survey of Cambodia, 1993–1994 3
  • 3 - Per Capita Consumption, Distribution and Inequality 7
  • 4 - Setting a Poverty Line for Cambodia 15
  • 5 - Poverty Comparisons for Targeting 21
  • 6 - International Poverty Comparisons 33
  • 7 - Comparison with Official Poverty Estimates 35
  • 8 - Characteristics of the Poor 39
  • 9 - Improving Poverty Analysis and Policy 41
  • References 47
  • Annex a - Civil Servants, Poverty and Earnings 49
  • Annex B - Analysis of Gender-Poverty Linkages 53
  • Annex C Poverty Tables 57
  • Annex D Reference Food Bundle 61
  • Annex E Technical Guide for Programmers 71
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