India has achieved 44% reduction in the percentage of poor people between 2001 and 2011: PEW Survey


By NewsGram Staff Writer


Between 2001 and 2011, India has managed to reduce the percentage of people below poverty line by almost a half.

According to the survey conducted by the PEW Research Center, around 35.4% Indians were below poverty line in 2001, which has been reduced to just 19.8% in 2011. That means, a percentage point change of (-15.6) or a reduction of 44% in the percentage of poor people. Indeed, it is a huge leap for the country.

This reduction in poverty can also be seen across the globe as percentage of poor people reduced from 29% in 2001 to 15% in 2011.

In terms of absolute numbers, India’s population grew from 1.028 billion in 2001 to 1.21 billion in 2011. For the same period, the number of poor people reduced from 364 million to around 240 million.

This is a good sign as far as India is concerned. It comes as an affirmation of the success of its poverty alleviation programs.

India has been struggling to overcome poverty right from its Independence days. According to the estimates published by B.S.Minhas, the Indian poverty rate was around 65% during 1956-57. Since Independence, successive governments have implemented various measures to uplift people out of poverty.

Taking note of India’s efforts at poverty reduction, the World Bank’s Global Monitoring Report for 2014-15 had stated that India has been the biggest contributor to poverty reduction between 2008 and 2011, with around 140 million or so lifted out of absolute poverty.


The PEW survey divided the world population into five categories based on their income levels: Poor, Low income, Middle income, Upper-middle income and High income. It categorized people with per capita daily earning less than $2 under “Poor”. Similarly, people earning between $2.01 and $10 were put under “Low income” and those earning between $10.01 and $20 were put under “Middle income”. The people with per capita income above $20 and up to $50 were put under “Upper-middle income” and those earning above $50 were put in “High income” category.

Therefore, the percentage of Indians earning less than $2 a day now stands at 19.8%. But, this reduction in poverty isn’t getting reflected as increase in the middle-income class. Instead, a large chunk of people have moved to low income category.

Percentage of people in low income category was 62.9% in 2001. It has increased to 76.9% in 2011. That is, a percentage point increase of 14, showing that a majority of poor people have made a transition to low-income level.

The percentage of middle income population rose to 2.6% in 2011, from 1.4% in 2001, showing only a marginal rise of 1.2 percentage point in middle income people. The rise is even lesser in case of upper-middle income and high income population with only a percentage point rise of 0.3 and 0.1 respectively.

The global percentage point change for various categories has been as follows: Poor (-14), Low income (6), Middle income (6), Upper-middle income (2) and High income (1).

Therefore, the trend in India is in line with global trend. Both in India and around the world, there has been a large transition of people from poverty to low income levels. The transition of people into middle income level has been moderate and the transition is only marginal in case of upper-middle income and high income levels.

The Indian government should take the results of this survey into consideration and focus its efforts not only on poverty alleviation programs, but also on ways in which people can increase their income levels.