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Statistics, Development and Human Rights

Poverty line

ment Rate - %

Rate %

Rate %

1989

30.5

17.7

6.8

14.4

0.722

1990

28.4

15.3

5.5

22.0

0.736

1991

44.6

15.4

0.7

51.1

1992

33.9

15.8

1.5

77.3

0.749

1993

24.4

16.2

1.7

22.1

0.702

1994

22.8

15.4

1.0

34.7

0.736

1995

27.5

16.2

0.7

19.9

0.735

1996

26.1

16.0

-1.4

26.4

1997

19.9

16.5

-2.1

9.7

1998

15.9

15.5

-0.7

8.7

Sources: Jamaica Surveys of Living Conditions, 1990-98. Planning Institute of Jamaica

Central Bank of Barbados: Annual Statistical Digest, 1999

Human Development Report, 1990-99. UNDP

Correlation and bivariate regression analyses have been used (given the short time series) to examine the relationship between the poverty ratio and macroeconomic variables (see Appendix 2). The conclusions that can be reached support those made above:

1.

Economic growth has been associated with increases in the poverty  index (i.e., a positive correlation coefficient over the 1998-99 period).

2.

Changes in the unemployment rate are uncorrelated with changes in the poverty ratio.

3.

There is a strong and statistically significant correlation between reduction in the poverty ratio and the inflation rate.  The main implication of this relationship is that stable or falling prices have  facilitated higher consumption expenditure levels, thus pushing more persons over the poverty line threshold.

Since changes in prices have ‘real income’ and ‘substitution effects’, the important issue becomes one of identifying the nature of the ‘real income effect’ which would have resulted in a significant fall in the poverty ratio between 1992 and 1998.  With low levels of economic growth and a stable unemployment rate it cannot be expected to be so large as to result in such a dramatic fall in poverty.

5. The Invisible and the Undetected Sectors

In societies with high levels of inequality, economic growth may not necessarily have a positive impact on poverty levels since the benefits of economic growth may be unequally distributed. It is not unreasonable to expect that improving standards of living might be linked with growing production and productivity. In Jamaica where the period of economic decline and stagnation of the productive sectors now exceeds approximately 25 years, it therefore seems necessary to look elsewhere for the source(s) of the apparent improvements in social and economic well-being. In so doing, it may also be possible to locate the reasons for the divergent trends and patterns just described.

5.1 The Informal sector

Montreux, 4. – 8. 9. 2000

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