2015/4/1 ～ 2017/3/31
Moving in and out of poverty in Laos
This project is now in its second year. As in our proposal last year, this research has a three-fold purpose: (I) to explore the major characteristics of the poor (e.g., location, ethnicity, gender, education), their relative deprivations (access to roads, electricity, water, schools, and hospitals), and their vulnerabilities and preparations for natural disasters; (II) to identify the factors explaining movements in and out of poverty; and (III) to assess whether improvements in monetary poverty has been translated into better human development outcomes (child nutrition, ante-natal care, and school enrollment). While we explore the nature of poverty in the entire population, we pay special attention to the bottom 40 per cent in order to assess to what extent the benefits of economic growth have trickled down to the very poor.
This project is particularly important to the Lao government because there has been no study on poverty transitions in Laos despite its robust economic growth. In fact, the rate of poverty reduction has been slow relative to the high rate of economic growth. This means that economic growth in Laos may not be inclusive of the poor. Economic growth in Laos comes from mining and quarrying and hydroelectricity which are largely capital-intensive sectors. Growth that is much less inclusive of the poor is an issue that the Lao government wishes to address based on the government goal of delisting Laos from the United Nations list of least developed countries by 2020.
In line with the research objectives and the government goal of making the poor inclusive in the growth process, I am collaborating with the National Economic Research Institute (NERI) which is the government think tank. This joint collaboration is expected to provide good policy recommendations to the Lao government in shaping their poverty reduction strategies. In addition, this kind of collaboration could upgrade the research capability of NERI staffs that are in one way or another involved in this project (some of them are GRIPS alumni).