Determinants of Transient and Chronic Poverty: Evidence from Rural China

24 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Jyotsna Jalan

Jyotsna Jalan

Indian Statistical Institute

Martin Ravallion

Georgetown University

Date Written: June 1998

Abstract

Both chronic and transient poverty are reduced by greater command over physical capital, and life-cycle effects for the two types of poverty are similar. But there the similarities end. Most policies aimed at reducing chronic poverty may have little or no effect on transient poverty. Are the determinants of chronic and transient poverty different? Do policies that reduce transient poverty also reduce chronic poverty?

Jalan and Ravallion decompose measures of household poverty into chronic and transient components and use censored conditional quantile estimators to investigate the household and geographic determinants of both chronic and transient poverty, taking panel data for post-reform rural China. They find that a household's average wealth holding is an important determinant for both transient and chronic poverty. Although household demographics, levels of education, and the health status of members of the household are important for chronic poverty, they are not significant determinants of transient poverty.

Both chronic and transient poverty are reduced by greater command over physical capital, and life-cycle effects for the two types of poverty are similar. But there the similarities end. Smaller and better-educated households have less chronic poverty, but household size and level of education matters little for transient poverty. Living in an area where health and education are better reduces chronic poverty but appears to be irrelevant to transient poverty. Nor are higher foodgrain yields a significant determinant of transient poverty, although they are highly significant in reducing chronic poverty.

These findings suggest that China's poor-area development program may be appropriate for reducing chronic poverty but is unlikely to help reduce variations in consumption that households typically face in poor areas - the exposure to uninsured income risk that underlies transient poverty will probably persist. Other policy instruments may be needed to deal with transient poverty, including seasonal public works, credit schemes, buffer stocks, and insurance options for the poor.

This paper - a product of Poverty and Human Resources, Development Research Group- is part of a larger effort in the group to reexamine the role of the informal sector.

Suggested Citation

Jalan, Jyotsna and Ravallion, Martin, Determinants of Transient and Chronic Poverty: Evidence from Rural China (June 1998). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 1936. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=629112

Jyotsna Jalan

Indian Statistical Institute ( email )

7 S.J.S. Sansanwal Marg
Planning Unit
New Delhi - 110016
India

Martin Ravallion (Contact Author)

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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