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Causes of Poverty in Malaysia

Causes of Poverty in Malaysia
Malaysia is a nation in southeast Asia with a rich history and a population of over 30 million. The nation has been one historically plagued with deep poverty; however, in recent decades, the conditions for a large swathe of its people have greatly improved. The government has undertaken a monumental effort to attempt to eradicate the causes of poverty in Malaysia and has been largely successful. Nevertheless, the country still suffers from the ills of impoverishment and plenty of work still needs to be done.

Since the Millennium Development Goals were introduced in 1990, the Malaysian government has done a lot to reduce poverty in the nation. The percentage of households living on less than $8.50 per day (the national poverty line) fell from over 50 percent in the 1960s to 1 percent currently. The Asian Development Bank claimed this to be the largest reduction among all Asian countries. Another government goal was to halve the number of people living on $1 a day by 2015, which they also successfully achieved.

The task of solving the root causes of poverty in Malaysia, however, is still far from over. Over 60 percent of the country still lives on less than $1,600 a month, and in rural areas, that number can climb up to 85 percent. Furthermore, although only about 1 percent of people currently live under the extreme poverty line, that still accounts for 300,000 people, a significant number.

The government recognizes that it still has not fully addressed the causes of poverty in Malaysia, and has laid out a road map of its future plan of action. This plan of action revolves around four main focal points.


Addressing the Causes of Poverty in Malaysia


  1. Increase the level of education among the poor. Through education, children in poor communities will have a better chance to get a high-paying job or start a business.
  2. Strengthen social safety nets, enhance collaboration with NGOs and corporations and provide empowerment programs.
  3. Ensure income is redistributed to uplift those in poverty for the bottom 40 percent.
  4. Institutionalize appropriate policies which promote economic development.

If the Malaysian government continues on the path they have been on so far and successfully addresses these goals in their plan of action, poverty and the ills it brings could be effectively eradicated in the nation once and for all.

Alan Garcia-Ramos

Photo: Flickr