Small but rich

Apr 15, 2015-

Malthus and followers argue that the increasing population adds pressure to the resource base because of the increase in demand. Poverty could be the result of the over consumption of the resources by ever increasing population. The relationship between household size and poverty rate is evident from facts on Nepal.

The Nepal Living Standards Survey (NLSS) 2010/11 reveals that on average one quarter of the country’s population lives below the national poverty line. The poverty rate decreased from 30.8 percent in 2003/04. The 2011 census reveals that the rate of population change has reduced from 2.24 percent per annum in 2001 to 1.35 percent. In the same period, the average household size decreased from 5.44 persons per household to 4.88 persons. These facts indicate that the household size is related to poverty rate (percent of people below the national poverty line).

The household size and poverty rate of 3,973 Village Development Committees (VDCs)/ municipalities (MPs) located in 75 districts of all five development regions were analysed to find the relationship between the two. Data were taken from the NLSS 2010/11 and the 2011 census.

The average household size in Nepal ranges from 8.72 persons (Abhirao VDC of Kapilvastu district) to 2.15 persons (Ghyaru VDC of Manang district). The average poverty rate ranges from 72.8 percent (Kankada and Raksirang VDCs of Makwanpur district) to 0.5 percent (Imadol VDC, Lalitpur district). Both the average household size and the average poverty rate increased from east to west.

The average household size had a moderate positive correlation with the poverty rate (Karl Pearson’s correlation coefficient=0.44; maximum value is 1, which means total positive correlation). In a regression analysis between these two variables, the household size determined 20 percent of the variation in the poverty rate. This means, the bigger the size of a family the higher the chances of its being poor.

A high positive correlation between average household size and the poverty rate was observed in the eastern development region (Karl Pearson’s correlation coefficient=0.66). In a regression analysis between these two variables, the household size determined 43 percent of the variation in the poverty rate in the region. In the east, it was clearly evident that the bigger family size increases the higher the rate of poverty incidence. The relation, however, was poor in far-western development region. The region is poor, irrespective of the household size.

There could be many factors determining the poverty rates, but the analyses indicate that the bigger households are relatively poorer. With the increasing level of awareness and family planning interventions, the household size is expected to decrease, leading to a decline in the poverty rate.

Basan Shrestha

Published: 16-04-2015 09:56

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