Comparing Economic Indicators of India and Pakistan

India and Pakistan are running neck and neck in per capita GDP in both nominal US dollar terms and purchasing power parity terms, according to data available from multiple sources.

Nominal and PPP GDP:

CIA World Factbook reports that the 2013 official exchange rate GDP of India is $1.67 trillion while that of Pakistan is $237 billion. It's a ratio of 7, about the same as the population ratio between the two countries.

World Bank's International Comparison Program (ICP) 2011 did a detailed cross-country purchasing power comparison and estimated $778 billion PPP GDP for 2011. It put India's GDP at $5,757 billion, about 7.4 times Pakistan's.  It makes India's economy the third largest and Pakistan's economy 23rd largest in the world in PPP terms.  The ICP findings conclude that Pakistan's per capita income is US$4,450.00, just slightly below India's US$4,735.00. 

India Pakistan Sri Lanka Per Capita Income Source: World Bank

Poverty Rates:

The number of Pakistanis living below the 2005 $1.25 poverty line (set at $1.44 for 2011) is 4.8 million, less than one-seventh of the 35.1 million reported earlier., according to Center for Global Development (CGD). It is a huge drop from about 20% of the population to 3% of the population living below the international poverty line.
World Bank's Revised Poverty Estimates (Source: CGD)

Poverty rates for many other nations, including India and Bangladesh,  have also seen dramatic downward revisions. As a result, India now has 102 million poor, just slightly above China's 99 million. In fact, the new report has cut the world poverty rate in half from 19.7% to 8.9%. Reduction from 21% to 3% for Pakistan poverty is much sharper than the rest of the world because ICP 2011 found it to be the second cheapest in the world.

The revision became necessary after the World Bank's International Comparison Program (ICP) completed a detailed study of a list of around 800 household and non-household products to compare real purchasing power for trans-national income comparison program (ICP). The CGD explained that the revision in poverty rate was necessitated by the results of latest ICP. It said: "Pakistan’s PPP conversion rate for GDP was 19.1 Rupees to the dollar in 2005 and 24.4 in 2011 — a gentle increase of 28 percent. The Consumer Price Index in Pakistan has gone up 102 percent over that same period. That might reflect changing or inadequate ICP commodity baskets or consumption data in one or both years, or mismeasurement of prices by Pakistan’s statistical agencies. But whatever the reason, it appears to apply to a lot of countries. Very few places saw PPP conversion rates climb close to or more than CPIs between 2005 and 2011, which is why poverty rates based on the 2011 PPP numbers tend to be lower."

Rural Poverty: 

One of the key reasons for lower rural poverty in Pakistan is the relatively high per capita agriculture value added  for its region.

Agriculture Value Added Per Capita in Constant 2000 US$--Source: World Bank
Livestock revolution enabled Pakistan to significantly raise agriculture productivity and rural incomes in 1980s. Economic activity in dairy, meat and poultry sectors now accounts for just over 50% of the nation's total agricultural output. The result is that per capita value added to agriculture in Pakistan is almost twice as much as that in Bangladesh and India.

Manufacturing Percentage of GDP Source: World Bank

GDP Growth Rates:

While per capita GDPs of Pakistan and India are neck-and-neck at the moment, the fact is that economic growth rates in Pakistan are continuing lag growth rates in India and other SAARC economies.

Meager 4.1% GDP growth reported by Pakistan for 2013-14 caps sixth consecutive year of disappointing economic performance under "democratic" governments in the country. This slow growth brings back bitter memories of the last lost decade of 1990s when economic growth plummeted to between 3% and 4%, poverty rose to 33%, inflation was in double digits and the foreign debt mounted to nearly the entire GDP of Pakistan as the governments of Benazir Bhutto (PPP) and Nawaz Sharif (PMLN) played musical chairs.

India-Pakistan GDP Growth Rates Since 1990s Source: World Bank 

Unless Pakistani leaders find a way to accelerate growth, Pakistan will be left far behind India in terms of per capita gdp by the end of this decade.


While India has suffered an economic slow-down in recent years, growth in Pakistan has dramatically plummeted under "democratic" leadership since 2008. Pakistan is in the midst of another lost decade like the 1990s, putting it at risk of being the worst economy in South Asia region and hurting its people in myriad ways including human development rates. This has to change for the better for Pakistan to keep up with its neighbors. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Underinvestment Hurting Economic Growth in Pakistan

Pakistan's Revised PPP GDP 2011

Pakistan Among Top 25 World Economies

Pakistan's Per Capita Income

Pakistan Fares Better Than Neighbors on World Misery Index

Pakistan's Underground Economy

India Pakistan Comparison 

Pakistan Economic History

Pakistan's Expected Demographic Dividend


Riaz Haq said…
From The Economist:

IN OCTOBER 1987 the landmark privatisation of British Petroleum (now BP) was derailed by “Black Monday”, a big stockmarket crash. Pakistan’s planned divestment of a 7.5% stake in OGDCL, a listed but largely state-owned oil firm, has not been quite as cursed, but the circumstances could be more propitious. Pakistan’s government has been on the back foot following street protests in August and September. A nuisance suit to stop the sale was quashed this week by the Supreme Court. But there is likely to be a further delay while OGDCL publishes its results. Meanwhile the oil price has fallen sharply, as have stockmarkets around the world.

The good news for Pakistan’s government is that the appetite for local assets has been strong. Since the start of 2012 MSCI’s index of Pakistani shares has risen by 60% in dollar terms—ahead of global indices as well as Pakistan’s peers among frontier markets, which are less liquid and less open to foreign capital than others (see chart). The surprise is that the market did not fall further over the torrid summer. That was thanks largely to foreigners, who kept piling in even as jittery locals began selling. They bought a net $36m-worth of shares in August, when the protests were at their height, and a further $53m-worth in September.

The market’s bull run began in 2012 when a tax amnesty allowed previously hidden cash to be invested in stocks. Foreigners’ interest was piqued after elections in May of last year which led to the country’s first ever handover from one civilian government to another. The new one was seen as friendlier to business and took advice and credit from the IMF. Reforms were drafted and privatisations scheduled. A $2 billion bond issue this April was many times oversubscribed.

This was encouraging for a country more often seen as a cauldron of instability than as a fount of opportunity. Pakistan remains at the wrong end of international rankings of corruption, human development and security. But it is almost mid-table in the World Bank’s international comparison of the “ease of doing business”, scoring higher than either Brazil or India. Pakistan’s listed firms have a handsome average return on equity of more than 25%. The market is cheap relative to its frontier-market peers, with shares priced at 8.5 times earnings on average....

Pakistan’s market also spans lots of industries with a variety of well-run firms in each, says Andrew Brudenell, who runs a $700m frontier fund for HSBC which has a tilt towards Pakistan. Such diversity is in part a product of successive governments’ habit of privatisation by fits and starts: no fewer than 169 chunks of state-owned firms have been offloaded since 1991. The two most recent sales, in June, were of a 5% stake in Pakistan Petroleum, another oil firm, and of the state’s 20% shareholding in United Bank.

The more shares that float freely, the bigger the weighting Pakistan earns in the stockmarket indices that act as industry benchmarks. It is already the fourth-biggest frontier market, following the promotion of United Arab Emirates and Qatar to MSCI’s emerging-market index in June. This may explain the continued buying of its stocks during the turbulent summer. The sale of the stake in OGDCL is thus pivotal. It will not only give the stockmarket greater depth, but also add to Pakistan’s depleted currency reserves if, as expected, foreigners are the main buyers. The seven further privatisations in the pipeline should bring similar benefits. None of them is an oil company.
Riaz Haq said…
Big city people per hectare: ‪#‎Bangladesh‬ 175 ‪#‎India‬ 105 ‪#‎Pakistan‬ 92 ‪#‎US‬ 21 As people get richer they use more space

Those who argue that suburbia is dying are wrong on the facts; those who say it is doomed by the superiority of higher-density life make a far from convincing case. Cities that have sought to stop the sprawl—London is the most striking example—have achieved dubious benefits at great cost.
Riaz Haq said…
FORBES: "India Becoming Third Largest World Economy Is A Sign Of Failure, Not Success"

An interesting little point following on from the CEBR report into the size of national economies. Of course, as we would expect, reports from different countries about the same report note and detail different facets of said report. So we’ve a report out of SE Asia that looks at the way in which India is set, within the decade, to become the largest economy in the Commonwealth and the third largest overall. This is being seen as a sign of success, of their doing something right. Which is true in a trivial manner: but the greater truth is that this is a sign of the failure of previous policies.

Here’s that report from Malaysia:

The latest edition of Cebr Global’s World Economic League Table (WELT) will see the “unstoppable” rise of India as it surpasses Britain to become the largest economy in the Commonwealth in 2018 and the third largest economy in the world by 2024, according to a new global league table reported by the Press Association.

In more detail, the predictions are:

Its 2014 ranking puts the US first, followed by China, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, Brazil, Italy, India and Russia, in that order.

By 2030, it forecasts that globalization will have reached its mature phase, with China installed as the world’s biggest economy ahead of the US and India in third place, followed by Japan, Brazil, the UK, Germany, South Korea, France and Russia.

And the digest of the report itself says:

The rise of India looks unstoppable. India overtakes the UK in 2018 to become the largest economy in the Commonwealth and the rise continues – by 2024 India is the world’s third largest economy

This is all good stuff, of course it is. It’s just wonderful that places that are currently poor are becoming richer. And yes, at least part of it all is that better public and economic policies are being followed in those formerly poor nations, the very things and policies that are making them richer.

However, we also need to consider some other points. For example, it’s not the economic output of a certain group of people within certain arbitrary lines upon the map that really matters. It’s how many people there are and what standard of living they each have that is. And if we look at countries by population, by GDP and by GDP per capita, we find very different answers.

If all countries were doing equally well in providing a lifestyle for their citizenry then we would expect the world’s largest economies to be those with the largest populations. And this isn’t quite so: it’s only just now that China, with four or five times the population, has passed the US as the largest economy. And India is still well behind, despite a similarly larger population. Meaning that the US is doing four or five times better than China in providing a living standard to its people than China is: and obviously yet again better than India.

So, yes, obviously it’s good that these poor countries are getting richer. But it’s not an unalloyed joy: because when we look on a per capita basis then we can see how far they’ve still got to go. And of course that means that while current policies must be better than those that went before, it also means that past policies were really pretty bad.
Riaz Haq said…
Express Trib Op Ed on India-Pakistan economy and poverty:

I recently came across a blog titled ‘What’s Really Going on with income trends in India and Pakistan’. The blog was written by a Pakistani economist working in the Washington office of the World Bank. I have known the author and have great respect for him as an economist and as a person. However, it pains me to see that in this blog at least, excessive generalisations and selective analysis is presented to promote a political agenda.

Nobody can deny the fact that for over a decade, India’s economy has been doing very well. In comparison, Pakistan is having severe difficulties; partly due to internal reasons and partly imposed by the geo-political situation in the region. In my opinion, Pakistan could be well served by taking a few pages out of India’s economic management playbook.

Yet, when the author tried to compare the trends of per-capita incomes in both the countries, he seemed baffled to discover that as per the Exchange Rate Parity (ERP), Pakistan is not doing as bad in comparison to India as it should have been doing in his opinion.

As per the author,

“What is wrong with this picture? Why is there no difference in average growth between the two countries between 1990 and 2008, when India is supposed to have been on a reforms and high-investment path and Pakistan on a failed-state path.”

Rather than trying to find reasons for this lack of “evidence” to support his hypothesis, he blames it all on the data, and goes hunting for alternative data sources which would support his pre-suppositions, which he finds in terms of per-capita income measured in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).

He then tries to convince us that per-capita income measured in PPP is a much better index of economic welfare than that measured in ERP.

“Don’t be misled by ‘headline’ data. Current dollar figures used in the media and in everyday discourse need to be scrutinised and adjusted to get the true picture.”

The author is a very good economist and it is inconceivable that he doesn’t know that superiority of PPP over ERP is not universally true, especially if one or both countries have some ‘administered prices’. In case of administered prices and/or large scale subsidies, per-capita income measured in PPP may even be a poorer indicator of welfare than its ERP counterpart.

We all know that there are a lot of subsidies in India, from food to agricultural inputs, from fuel to credits. These subsidies help in keeping domestic prices low, and hence better PPP. India spends more than 10 per cent of the Union Government’s budget on subsidies.

On the other hand, Pakistan has eliminated all subsidies except a minor subsidy on wheat. However, since the commodity price shock of 2007, electricity is also being subsidised. Still Pakistan spends only three to four per cent of its federal budget on subsidies.

As per the 2015/16 budget, India has allocated equivalent of $ 37 billion for subsidies. In comparison, Pakistan has allocated only $ 1.3 billion. With much higher subsidies, it is no surprise that India does significantly better than Pakistan in PPP terms (than in comparison using ERP). In other words, India’s higher growth in per-capita income measured in PPP terms has been “bought” using taxpayer money.

However, what bothered me most about the content of the blog was how the income story was only half-told. Going by the title of the blog, the readers expected an attempt by the author to show what really is going on with the income figures in these two countries. To elaborate, I would like to present two additional charts, similar to the charts presented by the author. Both of the charts use World Bank data.
Riaz Haq said…
Jaitley Hails #India's Tax-Free, Job-Rich Informal Economy Estimated At 40% of Official GDP #Modi #BJP via @business

India’s underground economy is booming, and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wants to keep it that way.
The informal sector is estimated at $780 billion, or about 40 percent of India’s official gross domestic product. It employs more than 90 percent of India’s workforce, according to the government.
“I’m a great supporter of this informal sector," Jaitley said in an interview on Monday. “The informal sector generates more jobs than the organized industry."
The approach goes against the advice of many economists, including those at the International Monetary Fund, which recommends widening the tax net to alleviate India’s chronic shortfalls in fiscal revenue. Indian governments often need to slash infrastructure spending to meet deficit targets that are still among Asia’s highest.
India ranks among the world’s top employers in the informal sector, according to the International Labour Organisation. It puts to work about 400 million people -- more than the entire U.S. population.
In India, it’s nearly impossible to avoid. Retail stores offer discounts for customers if they pay cash, and landlords often take a portion of the monthly rent in stacks of 1,000-rupee notes. Back-alley hawalas transfer billions of dollars around the globe with no questions asked, and thousands of unregistered and underpaid chauffeurs and housemaids don’t file annual income declarations.
“The black economy is growing faster than the white economy and everybody is involved -- the entire country," said Arun Kumar, author of “The Black Economy in India," who came up with the $780 billion estimate by looking at wages, under-the-table transactions and cash-based real estate sales. “This isn’t just a problem among the wealthy -- almost everyone with disposable income participates in the black economy and it’s accepted."

Total corporate and personal income tax payers in India amount to about 40 million -- roughly 3 percent of the country’s 1.2 billion people. To expand that, a Finance Ministry-created panel suggested putting levies on farmers in the untaxed rural sector who make more than 5 million rupees ($76,000) per year -- an approach backed by the IMF.
“We think there’s scope to bring the fiscal deficit down in particular with the revenue side," said Thomas Richardson, the resident representative of the IMF in India. “It’s really a task of widening the tax net -- not raising rates, but bringing more people into the tax net."
“Neo-Middle Class"
Jaitley, for one, rejects that idea. Most farmers don’t make much money anyway, he said, and the rest could use the extra cash.
“We need to strengthen the neo-middle class and put more money in their pockets," Jaitley said. “So bringing tax violators into the tax net, yes, but bringing people with marginal incomes into the tax net -- I’m not so excited about it at all."
Instead, Jaitley wants to finance them. This year the government started a program to boost lending to small entrepreneurs like shopkeepers, fruits and vegetable vendors and artisans. Government-run banks have so far disbursed nearly $6 billion in increments of as much as about $15,000.
Part of the problem is India’s strict labor laws for companies with more than 100 employees. They incentivize businesses to stay small, leaving workers with few rights. The government so far has tweaked only a few minor labor laws, and it’s unclear when they will push for more changes.
While Jaitley this year is again struggling to raise revenue, he’s confident he’ll hit his deficit target of 3.9 percent of GDP without slashing funds for roads, bridges and ports. Shortfalls in direct taxes and state assets sales will be compensated by higher-than-expected indirect taxes -- including payments on services and exports.
Riaz Haq said…
India is far ahead of Pakistan in more ways than I can count :-)

Here are some:

1. India leads the world in open absolute numbers and percentages.

2. India leads the world in child absolute numbers and percentages.

3. India has more poor, hungry and illiterate people than any other country in the world. In percentage terms, the poverty rate in India is 2X higher than in Pakistan.

4. More farmers have killed themselves in India than any other country in the world.

5. Top 1% of Indians own 58% of India's wealth, 2nd only to Russia's 70%.

6. India has a mass murderer Modi as its elected leader.

7. India has more slaves than any other country in the world.

8. India has had more anti-minority riots than any other country in the world.

9. India is only one of only two countries where Apartheid is still rampant....the other is Israel.

10. There are more active insurgencies in India than any other country in the world.

And yet, India is a "secular democracy"!!!!!

All of the above are easily verifiable facts from credible sources which track such data.

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