Where Have All the Poor Gone? : Cambodia Poverty Assessment 2013

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Over the seven years from 2004 through 2011, Cambodian economic growth was tremendous, ranking amid the best in the world. Moreover, household consumption increased by nearly 40 percent. And this growth was pro-poor, not only reducing inequality, but also proportionally boosting poor people's consumption further and faster than that of the non-poor. As a result, the poverty rate dropped from 52.2 to 20.5 percent, surpassing all expectations. However, the majority of these people escaped poverty only slightly: they remain highly vulnerable, even to small shocks, which could quickly bring them back into poverty. The main drivers of poverty reduction were better prices of rice for farmers, better wages for agricultural workers, increases in salary jobs for the urban labor force, and better income for non-agricultural businesses for rural households. Improvements in health and education, as well as government investment in infrastructure, provided a favorable environment for the poor, allowing many of them to pull themselves out of poverty. Looking forward, some of these drivers of poverty reduction are likely to stall. Coupled with increased vulnerability, the present conditions create new challenges for the Royal Government of Cambodia. Furthermore, most of the improvements in Cambodia originated at very low values, thus leaving much work to better the well-being of many Cambodian households. Outstanding gains have been achieved, but it will take focus and further actions to maintain Cambodia's future growth. Most poverty in Cambodia is found in the countryside: about 90 percent of Cambodia's poor live in rural areas. To generate the maximum impact, government policies should concentrate on the productivity of the rural poor's major assets: their labor and their land.
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World Bank. 2013. Where Have All the Poor Gone? : Cambodia Poverty Assessment 2013. © Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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