In recent years, a number of studies have been conducted on the number of poor in India. Some have estimated that 77% of India is poor, others say 37% of India is below the poverty line. The Wall Street Journal contains an article on a new poverty study which the reasons for why people are poor.
The article is an interview with a Anirudh Krishna, a public policy professor. The main points he makes are (quoted from the article):
One-third of people are not born poor. As many as one-third of all poor people were not born poor. They became poor within their lifetimes on account of factors that could have been prevented.
Reasons people become poor. Carolina. People have fallen into poverty on account of a chain of negative everyday events like illnesses and [spending on] marriages and deaths. Some of these factors vary considerably across and both within countries. What’s common everywhere is the contribution illness and high health care costs make to the reproduction of poverty.
Weddings and funerals. A wedding is something you plan for. An illness is something that happens mostly unexpectedly, especially an injury, and that wipes out the savings you’ve accumulated. That said there’s an obscene amount of spending on weddings and dowries and these amounts are growing from year to year.
Some measures which should be undertaken.
(1) Health insurance is important but as important is the provision of high-quality health care. There are still several parts of India where there is no doctor available and we all know about the incidents of misconduct and overcharging so there’s also a case for the regulation of the healthcare sector.
(2) Institutions such as employment exchanges, career guides simply don’t exist so many young people are simply unaware about the different opportunities they could tap.
In the 80 villages surveyed, out of more than 1,000 who have graduated from high school in the past 10 years, only 10 or 12 have risen to any higher paying position. The rest are bus conductors or school teacher or electricity linemen.