Income Inequality: Elite Capture in Pakistan

A recent United Nations report on inequality reveals that the richest 1% in Pakistan take 9% of the national income.  A quick comparison with other South Asian nations shows that 9% income share for the top 1% in Pakistan is lower than 15.8% in Bangladesh and 21.4% in India. These inequalities result mainly from a phenomenon known as "elite capture" that allows a privileged few to take away a disproportionately large slice of public resources such as public funds and land for their benefit. 

Share of Income of Richest 1% in South Asia


Elite Capture:

Elite capture, a global phenomenon,  is a form of corruption. It describes how public resources are exploited by a few privileged individuals and groups to the detriment of the larger population. 

A recently published report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has found that the elite capture in Pakistan adds up to an estimated $17.4 billion - roughly 6% of the country's economy. 

Pakistan's most privileged groups include the corporate sectorfeudal landlordspoliticians and the  military. UN Development Program's NHDR for Pakistan, released last week, focused on issues of inequality in the country of 220 million people. 

Ms. Kanni Wignaraja, assistant secretary-general and regional chief of the UNDP, told Aljazeera that Pakistani leaders have taken the findings of the report “right on” and pledged to focus on prescriptive action. “My hope is that there is strong intent to review things like the current tax and subsidy policies, to look at land and capital access", she added. 

Inequality in Pakistan. Source: UNDP

Income Inequality:

The richest 1% of Pakistanis take 9% of the national income, according to the UNDP report titled "The three Ps of inequality: Power, People, and Policy". It was released on April 6, 2021. Comparison of income inequality in South Asia reveals that the richest 1% in Bangladesh and India claim 15.8% and 21.4% of national income respectively.

In addition to income inequality, the UNDP report describes the inequality of opportunity in terms of access to services, work with dignity and accessibility. It is based on exhaustive statistical analysis at national and provincial levels, and includes new inequality indices for child development, youth, labor and gender. Qualitative research, through focus groups with marginalized communities, has also been undertaken, and the NHDR 2020 Inequality Perception Survey conducted. The NHDR 2020 has been guided by a diverse panel of Advisory Council members, including policy makers, development practitioners, academics, and UN representatives.

Savings, Investments and Exports:

It is generally accepted that the rich save a much bigger portion of income than the middle class and the poor. The effect is strongest among those in the top quintile of the lifetime earnings distribution—they have substantially greater wealth relative to their earnings than those in the bottom 80% of the distribution, according to published research

Lower inequality in Pakistan is reflected in its abysmal domestic savings and investment rate of around 10% of GDP. It shows in Pakistan's lower economic growth rate compared to Bangladesh and India. The distribution of national income in a country is a key socioeconomic variable with broad economic and societal implications. Income inequality and wealth inequality are related because the flow of income determines savings and investments, which in turn determine GDP growth and accumulation of wealth. An economic model offered by Galor and Zeira finds that the effect of rising inequality on GDP per capita is negative in relatively rich countries but positive in poor countries like Pakistan.

Investment as Percentage of GDP Source: State Bank of Pakistan 


While Pakistan's per capita income more than doubled from $500 to $1,000 in the ten years 2000 to 2010, the growth has slowed to less than 30% from 2010 to 2020. Faster GDP growth in the decade of 2000-2010 was partly the result of significant increase in Pakistan's savings and investment rates. Meanwhile, rising worker remittances from overseas Pakistanis have been boosting Pakistan national savings rate and helping reduce current account deficits
 
Savings Rate in Pakistan. Source: Dawn


Pakistan's exports doubled from $10 billion to $20 billion in years 2000-2010. In the last decade 2010-2020, the nation's exports have grown only about 25% to $25 billion. Exports have declined in terms of percentage of the country's GDP from 13% to 10% in the most recent decade. 

Pakistan FDI inflows have significantly lagged behind those of the rest of South Asia.

FDI Inflows in Pakistan. Source: World Bank

Pakistan saw rapid economic growth in the 1960s in spite of low domestic savings rate. This can be explained by foreign development aid of as much as 10% of GDP that Pakistan received in that decade. . 

Foreign Aid to Pakistan as Percent of GDP Source: World Bank

Summary:

The richest 1% of Pakistanis take away 9% of the national income. Inequality in Pakistan has many dimensions beyond income. The rich enjoy greater access to education, healthcare, financial services, employment and business opportunities. Corporations, feudal landowners, politicians and the military are the most privileged groups with the best opportunities to own businesses, financial assets, farmland and real estate. They capture an estimated $17.4 billion - roughly 6% of the country's economy. Ms. Kanni Wignaraja, assistant secretary-general and regional chief of the UNDP, told Aljazeera that Pakistani leaders have taken the findings of the report “right on” and pledged to focus on prescriptive action. “My hope is that there is strong intent to review things like the current tax and subsidy policies, to look at land and capital access", she added. The policymakers in Pakistan should consider the negative economic implications of any such moves, particularly on savings and investments in the country.  




Comments

Mayraj F. said…
Privilege keeps many from seeing the violence in India: Historian Aparna Vaidik

https://caravanmagazine.in/interview/privelege-keeps-many-from-seeing-the-violence-in-india-historian-aparna-vaidik


Aparna Vaidik is an author and a historian, currently teaching at the Ashoka University in Haryana. She comes from a family deeply influenced by strictures of Hindu orthodoxy and Hindu nationalism. Partly as a result of her life in cosmopolitan Delhi and her academic career, she identified and explored the violence that undergirds Hindu nationalism, and more broadly Indian history and mythology.

Her latest book, My Son’s Inheritance: A Secret History of Blood Justice and Lynchings in India, was published in the wake of the lynchings of Muslims and Dalits by Hindu majoritarian outfits in recent years, in the name of cow protection, and protests against them. In the book, Vaidik visits Khatu Shyamji, a small town in Rajasthan to which her family traces its ancestry in part. She explores upper-caste Hindus’ long history of violence in the name of gau raksha—cow protection. Vaidik critiques the indifference of many Indians, including of liberals, to the violence that, she argues, is replete in Indian history and Hindu mythology. She also points to how upper-caste privilege plays a major role in people’s inability to recognise this violence.

As Indian politics places itself firmly on the right of the ideological spectrum, some individuals who were previously members of right-wing organisations, have moved towards the Left—or at least, away from the Right. Yet, others, who hail from a notably right-wing milieu, never embraced it and have become the political right’s fiercest critics. What makes such individuals go against the stream? What events, situations and considerations shape their decisions? Abhimanyu Chandra, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, seeks to explore these transitions in a series of interviews, titled Converse Lens, published by The Caravan. Chandra spoke to Vaidik over e-mail about why and how she did not take the baton of Hindu nationalism passed on to her by her grandfather, and her study on the violence inherent, as she argues, in India’s past.
Riaz Haq said…
Inequality and relative saving rates
at the top


by Philipp Lieberknecht, Philip Vermeulen

https://www.ecb.europa.eu/pub/pdf/scpwps/ecb.wp2204.en.pdf

The distribution of national income and wealth are key economic variables with broad economic and societal implications. The recent development of the World Wealth and Income
Database (WID), a large-scale database featuring historical cross-country inequality measures,
allows for a long-term analysis of the relationship between income and wealth inequality. Income inequality and wealth inequality are related because the flow of income determines saving,
which in turn determines the accumulated stock of wealth. A look at French and US data, two
countries with the longest time span of data available, shows that in recent decades the share
of income that goes to the top 1% or the top 10% has been rising. Simultaneously, the share
of wealth owned by the top 1% and top 10% has been rising as well. Remarkably, over the last
century, the top shares of income and wealth have been evolving in broadly similar ways. This
paper provides an analysis of the strong co-movement of income and wealth inequality across
time.
Riaz Haq said…
From World Inequality Database


Top 1% national income share

https://wid.world/world/#sptinc_p99p100_z/WO;PK;IN;BD/last/eu/k/p/yearly/s/false/5.336/22.5/curve/false/country


World: 19/1%

Pakistan 18.3%

India 21.4%

Bangladesh 15.8%

Top 10% national income share


https://wid.world/world/#sptinc_p90p100_z/WO;PK;IN;BD/last/eu/k/p/yearly/s/false/28.711499999999997/60/curve/false/country

World 51.6%

Pakistan 44.6%

India 56.1%

Bangladesh 41.7%

Bottom 40% national income share

https://wid.world/world/#sptinc_p0p40_z/WO;PK;IN;BD/last/eu/k/p/yearly/s/false/3.7324999999999995/17.5/curve/false/country

World 5.9%

Pakistan 13.8%

India 10.4%

Bangladesh 14.1%

Singh said…
Share is 21% they control over 73% of wealth in india

Also take into account the accounted for formal vs the informal unaccounted for wealth. The rich just happen to be under scrutiny more.
As mentioned above they also come into the ambit of tax as well.

But nevertheless is a national shame.
Riaz Haq said…
Wealth of India's richest 1% more than 4-times of total for 70% poorest: Oxfam


https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/wealth-of-indias-richest-1-more-than-4-times-of-total-for-70-poorest-oxfam/articleshow/73416122.cms

India's richest 1 per cent hold more than four-times the wealth held by 953 million people who make up for the bottom 70 per cent of the country's population, while the total wealth of all Indian billionaires is more than the full-year budget, a new study said on Monday.

Releasing the study 'Time to Care' ahead of the 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), rights group Oxfam also said the world's 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 per cent of the planet's population.

The report flagged that global inequality is shockingly entrenched and vast and the number of billionaires has doubled in the last decade, despite their combined wealth having declined in the last year.

"The gap between rich and poor can't be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these," said Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar, who is here to represent the Oxfam confederation this yea ..

Riaz Haq said…
The United States had Rockefellers, JP Morgans, Carnegies, Fords and others who built American business and industry. Japan has Hitachi, Honda, Mitsubishi and other big names credited with building its business and industry. South Korea is home to recognized global giants like Samsung, Hyundai and others. A handful of individuals and families, aided by their governments, have played outsized roles in industrialization and economic growth in most major economies.

https://www.riazhaq.com/2018/05/history-of-pakistans-business-and.html

The captains of business and industry neighboring India are also a few known large families including Ambanis, Birlas, Hindujas, Jindals, Mittals, Tatas, and a few others. They have contributed to economic growth in their country.


Pakistan had the so-called 22 families which began the process of industrialization in 1960s but they were devastated by the 1971 war. What was left of their business and industry was nationalized by the PPP government led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1970s. Many of these families have since recovered and rebuilt and several new ones have now emerged. Their continued growth and Pakistan's economic progress depend largely on the continuity of business-friendly government policies in future.


Riaz Haq said…
Effect of Workers Remittances on Private Savings Behavior in Pakistan


by Rahila Munir, Maqbool Sial, Ghulam Sarwar and Samina Shaheen


https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227368264_Effect_of_Workers_Remittances_on_Private_Savings_Behavior_in_Pakistan


The worker remittances are an important component of national savings, increased enormously at the rate of 30 percent per annum during the last eight years (2000-2007) and be around $ 5.5 billion by June, 2007. With higher increase in worker remittances and rate of return on deposits the level of national savings would increase more.
Riaz Haq said…
The rise and rise of remittances
Mohiuddin Aazim

https://www.dawn.com/news/1602001


Remittances remained above the $2 billion mark in December 2020 for the seventh month in a row. In the first half of 2020-21, inflows totalled $14.2bn. The amount was about 25 per cent higher than $11.37bn received in July-Dec 2019.

----------------

But if a reasonable portion of remittances goes towards savings and investment, it will be more helpful and reduce our dependence on external borrowings.

The PTI government is trying to promote such savings and investment by facilitating and incentivising overseas Pakistanis to use their remittances’ accounts for investing in Pakistan’s debt, equity and mortgage markets. Long-term success of this policy, however, depends on close coordination of fiscal and monetary authorities and overall political stability.
Riaz Haq said…
How Much Inequality Is Necessary for Growth?
by Fuad Hasanov and Oded Izraeli


https://hbr.org/2012/01/how-much-inequality-is-necessary-for-growth


As the Occupy Wall Street protesters have pointed out, the strong global economic growth of the past few decades (not counting the Great Recession) left a lot of people behind. For example, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office recently reported that from 1979 to 2007 the top 1% of earners more than doubled their share of the nation’s after-tax income.

For decades economists have wondered whether inequality is bad or good for long-term growth. On one hand, entrenched inequality threatens to create an underclass whose members’ inadequate education and low skills leave them with poor prospects for full participation in the economy as earners or consumers. It can cause political instability and thus poses risks to investment and growth. On the other hand, some argue that because inequality puts more resources into the hands of capitalists (as opposed to workers), it promotes savings and investment and catalyzes growth.

To try to answer this question, we examined economic data from 48 U.S. states for the census years from 1960 to 2000. We discovered new evidence that inequality and growth are entwined in complex ways and found that overall, both high and low levels of inequality diminish growth.

We looked at the data through a number of lenses, each based on a different statistical model. Using one lens, we found a hump-shaped relationship between inequality and growth. Raise inequality above the average level in 2000, and growth declines; lower it, and the same thing happens. According to this analysis, inequality at that time was at a sort of optimum level, for lack of a better word.

Using another lens, we found a similarly hump-shaped relationship, but with the hump in a different place. From this perspective, the 2000 level of inequality is good for growth, but a higher level would, to a certain degree, be even better: A moderate rise in inequality—by one standard deviation—would increase annual growth by about 0.6 percentage points.

What are the long-term implications? The gains from rises in inequality are murky: Although our findings suggest that modest increases can generate growth, other data indicate that heightened inequality shortens growth spells and may halt growth. Reducing inequality, though, has clear benefits over time: It strengthens people’s sense that society is fair, improves social cohesion and mobility, and broadens support for growth initiatives. Policies that aim for growth but ignore inequality may ultimately be self-defeating, then, whereas policies that decrease inequality by, say, boosting employment and education have beneficial effects on the human capital that modern economies increasingly need.

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