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Nordic Countries Poverty Rates
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines the poverty rate as the ratio of the number of people in a given age group whose income drops below the poverty line, which is taken as half the median household income of the total population. Nordic countries have some of the lowest poverty rates in the world due to a number of factors.

 

Top Reasons for Low Poverty Rates in Nordic Countries

 

  1. Low Unemployment Rates. In Sweden, the unemployment rate has averaged 5.87 percent between 1980 and 2015. In November 2015, Sweden’s unemployment rate declined to 6.2 percent from 6.7 percent in October, the lowest reading since August 2008, according to Trading Economics. Notably, the number of unemployed fell by 55,000 compared to the previous year.
  2. The standard of poverty changes over time as countries become richer. As poverty researcher Peter Townsend notes, “Individuals, families and groups can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the type of diet, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and the amenities which are customary, or at least widely encouraged or approved in the societies to which they belong.”
  3. Transparency. Nordic countries, such as Sweden pride themselves on their honesty and transparency of their governments. In Sweden, everyone has access to all official records. Sweden’s trust for public institutions was at 55 percent compared to Russia’s 25 percent, according to The Economist.
  4. Individual autonomy. Nordic countries have let go of the old social democratic consensus and presented new ideas from across the political spectrum. They continue to invest in human capital and protect people from the disruptions that are part of the capitalist system, according to The Economist.

According to the OECD, the 2012 poverty rates for Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland stood at 9 percent, 5.4 percent, 8.1 percent and 6.5 percent respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, Mexico had the highest poverty rate at 18.9 percent.

The “Nordic Model” presents a starting point for other countries to develop methods to attack poverty as they work towards sustainable development.

Jordan Connell

Sources: The Economist, The Organization for Economic Cooperation, Trading Economics, Vox
Photo: Vox

poverty_in_india
According to India’s most recent Socioeconomic and Caste Census (SECC), the extent of poverty in India could be worse than ever before.

A total of 300 million Indian households were surveyed in this census, and 73 percent of those households are in small, rural villages. Of these villages, those who have a job that provides a stable salary make up 10 percent. Those who can afford to pay taxes or own a car make up only 5 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.

This data solidifies the fact that roughly one-third of the world’s poor currently live in India.

“It is our firm belief that the member countries will not only overcome the endemic poverty in the region but will in the coming years develop the capacity to address all problems relating to poverty,” said SECC Minister of State of Rural Development Sudarshan Bhagat.

In the meantime, those problems are still piling up. According to the SECC, literacy rates in rural India are disheartening, with 35.7 percent of residents illiterate and only 3.5 percent of students graduating from school.

The SECC data, however, is not without its flaws. The data is not quite as concrete as what might be found in a more formal federal survey, but it does provide the most cohesive look at poverty in the country published in recent years.

“We should beware of any illusion that SECC data can be used for the purpose of drawing a line between poor and non-poor households,” said development economist Jean Drèze. “There are fundamental, conceptual and practical difficulties with doing that on the basis of proxy indicators, even with good-quality data.”

According to a different study, a report made by India’s Planning Commission, 363 million Indians, or 29.5 percent of the total population, were living in poverty between 2011 and 2012. Even though this data is a few years old, it does not paint a much brighter picture for the current state of poverty in India. For now, the SECC report is the best bet.

“Quite likely, the SECC dataset is more reliable than earlier Below Poverty Line (BPL) surveys, and could be well used, for pro-active identification of people who need social security pensions, housing subsidies and so on,” added Drèze.

– Alexander Jones

Sources: Economic Times, CNN, Huffington Post
Photo: Deccan Chronicle

Poverty-in-Norway
The world’s richest country is Norway. The population of Norway is 4.5 million people. Despite the wealth of the country due to oil commodities, poverty in Norway still exists. In the capital of Oslo, 8.3 percent of the population suffers from poverty. The populations that are affected the most by poverty are immigrants, families with children and single parents, and those who are on social security.

As of 2014, child poverty is on the rise in Norway. It is estimated that 78,000 children are suffering at this time. Three point four percent of children are living in a state of ‘relative’ poverty. In Norway, it is defined as households with income below 50 per cent of the national median.

Of the children of Norway, 3.4 percent of children live below 50 percent of the poverty level, 1.6 percent of the children live below 40 percent of the poverty level and 7.5 percent live 60 percent below the poverty level.

In Norway, the defining features of their national estimates of the percentage of the population falling below the poverty line are based on surveys of sub-groups. The results are then adjusted based upon the number in each group. However, it is important to remember that wealthier nations generally employ more generous standards of poverty than poorer nations.

 

Poverty in Norway

 

Norway is considered to be a relatively rural country as compared to other countries within the EU. Only half of its population lives in cities and towns that have above 8,000 residents. Living conditions are said to be an issue for the impoverished. Overcrowded living conditions accompanies economic straddles in their cities. There are many problems in northern Norway, among their municipalities.

In Norway, a long standing and successful social welfare system exists. It has strong fiscal redistribution mechanisms designed to aim both at the impoverished and at a regional level. It is for this reason alone, that it is said that absolute poverty is rare. As it stands, Norway has 11 percent of the population under low-income level.

In comparison to the other European Union countries, the household poverty threshold is higher in Norway. In Norway, elderly people have a higher low-income risk than comparative age groups, compared to other European countries. In stark contrast, the vulnerable groups of Norway experience the opposite.

The contrast is even starker in oil-rich Norway, where the poorest 38 percent of the people fare better, on average, than the poorest 38 percent of Americans, despite a lower median per capita GDP.

-Erika Wright

Sources: CS Monitor, Index Mundi, News in English, Panam Post, UNICEF,
Photo: Romania Insider

Poverty in Bali
Despite welcoming more than 3 million visitors per year and the total from revenue from tourism that is expected to reach US $5.5 billion annually, many of Bali’s inhabitants are living in extreme poverty. But with so much income—$5.5 billion for its 3.8 million Balinese—why is there poverty in Bali?

In Bali, there are as many as 162,051 people living in poverty and this figure has been on the increase. In the villages, the rate at which the number of poor is rising is twice as much as that of Bali’s urban areas. In the Balinese countryside, it is estimated that more than 77,400 people are living in poverty. Currently, in 82 villages out of Bali’s 706 villages, the poverty rate hovers above 35 percent. To make matters worse, on this tourism-focused island where the number of tourists almost matches that of the locals, the incomes of farmers are dwindling and the prices of essential goods are becoming more and more unaffordable to many Balinese.

In remote villages—and “remote” in Bali means an hour or two away from the glittering 5-star hotels—the residents are very poor and most villages lack education, access to clean water and even electricity. Many children must walk for kilometers to go to school. Furthermore, as the more fertile south is overdeveloped, many Balinese are only left with the infertile dry soil of the north and the east to farm on. Due to the lack of jobs and opportunities, men from the villages must also leave to find jobs in the tourism sector, leaving their wives and children. Thus, oftentimes women must work disproportionately, covering both their absent husbands’ tasks as well as their own tasks. In the resort towns, rural migrant workers still earn very little in comparison to what the business establishments whom they work for are earning from tourism. The minimum salary in Bali is only 1,542,600.00 Indonesian Rupiah, or around US $125.

I Made Mangku Pastika, Bali’s governor had made a statement calling the island’s thriving tourism a “disaster” for the poor. He expressed his concern that as prices of basic necessities skyrocket, farmers in need of cash would be forced to sell their land—the only real property they own—in order to make ends meet. The governor had previously fought to stave off further tourism-accommodation developments into the Balinese inland, however due to the political administrative structure, many local authorities ignored his initiative. Trapped in the dilemma of tourism being both the island’s lifeblood as well as—in the words of the governor—a disaster for the poor.

Nevertheless, the governor—now in his second term—is diligently working on solving his island’s economic discrepancy, with many poverty-alleviation plans such as the integrated farming scheme, the installation of solar panels, housing aid and the free healthcare plan. The governor—realizing the injustice of this developmental disparity—also plans to bring down the rate of extreme poverty (people living on less than $2 per day) down from the current figure.

– Peewara Sapsuwan

Sources: The Bali Times, WageIndicator.org, The Bali Times, The Jakarta Post, Australia Network News, The Jakarta Post, Asia News Network,
Photo: Tripping