There is an alarmingly high concentration of poverty in South Asia. The continent accounts for a staggering 43% of the global poor, with millions of people living on less than $6.85 (around £5.52) a day.
As for Pakistan’s neighbour, India, poverty is also rife there, as over 125 million people suffer deprivation in housing, sanitation, and cooking fuel.
Both countries are making fantastic progress to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of their citizens.
So, is there more poverty in India or Pakistan? We will dive into this question in this article, providing key facts and information to understand this topic.
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Is there more poverty in India or Pakistan?
To better understand poverty in Pakistan and India, let’s take a look at some of the key indicators of deprivation and poor socioeconomic conditions in both countries.
For people living in extreme poverty, it is difficult for them to afford the essentials they need to survive: such as food, clean water, housing and medications. This unfortunately impacts their health and well-being and decreases their life expectancy.
The following problems are also prevalent across both Pakistan and India:
- Food insecurity and chronic thirst.
- Economic uncertainty, inflation, and high costs of living.
- Inadequate medical care and lack of access to medical treatments.
- Chronic health conditions such as heart disease and dementia.
- Severe illness and deaths from preventable diseases like diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid.
- Malnutrition, stunted growth and severe wasting in children.
- High infant mortality rates.
- Homelessness and poor standards of living (e.g. slums and shantytowns.)
- Overcrowding in urban areas, due to the migration of people to cities for jobs.
- Poor sanitation and toilet facilities, which results in open defecation.
- Assault and gender-based violence against girls and women who have no choice but to openly defecate.
- Addictions and substance abuse.
- Mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety, as well as a lack of mental health awareness and training.
- High suicide rates.
- Illiteracy and limited opportunities for education (due to a shortage of schools, teachers, and teaching tools like books and blackboards).
- Forced labour- particularly among children, who have to work in hazardous, exploitative jobs to provide for their families.
- Lack of public works and infrastructure (such as roads, bridges, electricity, Internet access, and mobile phones).
- Forced marriage, child marriage, sexual abuse, trafficking and domestic violence.
- Lack of food reserves (in case of drought, famine, floods and natural disasters).
- Being forced to commit crimes such as stealing or prostitution, to put food on the table.
- Racial and religious discrimination and sectarian violence (e.g. forced conversions or violence towards minority groups).
- Political instability.
- Extremism and terrorism.
- Corruption within local authorities (e.g. misuse of public funds).
So, is there more poverty in India or Pakistan?
Well, let’s consider a few factors associated with poverty:
- Which country has more people living below the poverty line?
According to statistics from the data portal IndexMundi, Pakistan has a higher percentage of people living below the poverty line.
Pakistan sits at number 65 on this list, with 29.5% of its population living below the poverty line.
Whereas, India is listed at number 96, with 21.9% of its people living below the poverty line.
Syria tops the list as the country with the largest percentage of people living below the poverty line (82.5%).
2. Which country has a higher cost of living?
It is 16.3% cheaper to live in Pakistan than in India, according to this chart created by the country comparison tool MyLifeElsewhere.com:
Cost in Pakistan
Cost in India
Loaf of bread
1 litre of milk
Bottle of water
Basic meal with drink at inexpensive restaurant
1 litre of gasoline
3. Which country has a higher infant mortality rate?
Currently, the infant mortality rate is higher in Pakistan than in India.
In 2022, the infant mortality rate in Pakistan was 56.888 deaths per 1000 live births.
That same year, the infant mortality rate in India was 27.695 deaths per 1000 live births.
4. Which country has a higher life expectancy?
The average life expectancy is currently higher in India than in Pakistan.
In 2022, India’s average life expectancy was 70.19 years.
That same year, the average life expectancy in Pakistan was 67.79 years.
5. Which country has a higher literacy rate?
The literacy rate is currently higher in India than in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, the literacy rate is currently 62.3%, which means that around 90 million people in the country cannot read and write.
In India, the literacy rate is 77.70%, having registered an increase of over 9% since 2011.
Now we have examined a few key indicators of poverty, how can we answer the question ‘is there more poverty in India or Pakistan?’
Well, it would be fair to say that poverty levels are higher and life expectancy is lower in Pakistan, but it is cheaper to live there.
Both countries are doing well with their poverty reduction efforts, however, more action is needed to vastly improve the quality of the hundreds of millions of people who make up the population.
How have the 2022 floods worsened poverty in Pakistan?
In June 2022, Pakistan saw unprecedented levels of rainfall during its monsoon season. So extreme was this torrential rain, that it triggered flash flooding across the nation.
What followed next was an absolute catastrophe. The natural disaster has created a humanitarian crisis and severe public health emergency in the country.
The flooding has:
- submerged 1/3 of the country underwater- and it will take months for the floodwaters to recede.
- claimed the lives of over 1,700 people, including over 520 children.
- pushed millions of people to the brink of poverty.
- displaced tens of thousands of people and forced them to flee their homes and neighbourhoods.
- polluted water sources and destroyed water supply lines, forcing people to drink contaminated water.
- destroyed villages, homes, buildings, roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, and places of worship.
- washed away hectares and hectares of farmland, along with crops and livestock.
- left millions of people without their incomes, their livelihoods and assets.
- caused widespread shortages of food and essential supplies such as warm clothing.
- deprived millions of people of urgent medication, medical treatment and essential medical supplies.
- caused the spread of dangerous diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dengue fever and malaria.
- disrupted the education of children, young people and students.
- resulted in widespread open defecation, due to a lack of sanitation facilities.
- caused huge losses and damages to the agriculture sector.
- resulted in high inflation, which is disproportionately impacting the poor.
- hiked up food prices.
- increased public debt.
How is Zohra Foundation helping flood-affected people in Pakistan?
We at Zohra Foundation are encouraging supporters to donate to our Pakistan Flood Appeal, to help fund life-saving aid for people affected by this catastrophe.
Our team is currently on the ground in Pakistan, distributing aid such as cooked meals, clean water, kitchen utensils, medicines, tents, and hygiene kits, to help people recover from this devastating natural disaster.
We have also started rebuilding homes, to offer shelter, safety, and comfort to people who have been displaced during this tragedy.
The vulnerable people in Pakistan desperately need financial assistance, to repair their lives, following the devastating floods of 2022.
The floods have left thousands of people in a state of misery, despair and hopelessness. With no shelter, food, clean water, adequate sanitation, or medical care, these people have little chance of surviving this crisis.
Click here to donate to Zohra Foundation’s Pakistan Flood appeal today.
We are grateful for every donation we receive. Your donations are funding the essential supplies that so many vulnerable people urgently need at this moment after a natural disaster wrecked their lives.
Donate to Zohra Foundation
Zohra Foundation is a London-based, UK-registered charity organization that aims to improve the lives of millions of orphans, widows, and the elderly throughout Pakistan and respond to emergencies in other parts of the world.
Our team is currently delivering emergency relief across Pakistan, following the devastating 2022 floods.
All projects at Zohra Foundation are Zakat eligible. You can choose to make a one-off donation or donate on a monthly basis.
Donate to Zohra Foundation’s Pakistan Flood appeal here.
Support our Pakistan relief projects on Medical Aid, Dementia Camps, and Eye Camps here.
Click here to support our ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ scheme or Orphan Sponsorship scheme.
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We hope we have provided the answer to the question ‘is there more poverty in India or Pakistan?’
Honouring the forgotten elderly with dignity.
Providing urgent medical care, food, and shelter to the elderly in Pakistan.