Underreporting of Poverty in Kazakhstan

According to the article, Kazakhstan Changes The Social Welfare System. Will The Poor Live Better?, the Kazakh government admitted that official statistics have misreported the amount of poor people living in the country. Almost half of registered households of Kazakhstan turned out to be at the bad, crisis, and emergency social levels.

Poverty Levels Across Kazakhstan

According to the Bureau of National Statistics of Kazakhstan, the percentage of people with income below the subsistence level (SL) in the third quarter of 2022 was 5.3%. This is the highest indicator since the start of the year. However, the official poverty level is lower in towns (4%) and higher in villages (7.3%).

The percentage of the poor is lower in more economically developed towns and regions – Astana (2.2%), Ulytau (2%), Atyrau (3.5%) regions. There are more low income people in the south – in Turkestan region 9.1%, in Shymkent 7.2%.

Overall, 1 million 34 thousand people are officially poor in the country. This is 17% more than at the beginning of 2022.

Poverty Standards

In 2022, the World Bank determined the international extreme poverty line as 2.15 dollars per day per person. Kazakhstan with its 2.36 dollars ranks between Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

Arman Beisembayev, Kazakhstan-based economist stated that there are no proper statistics showing the full picture of poverty in Kazakhstan, while official data are underreported. According to Beisembayev, the government reports that a person with a salary just over the minimum salary is not poor. The state considers him/her a citizen with average income, although it is very hard for a family to live on this money. Other reasons why the official poverty statistics do not meet the reality is distrust of citizens to state bodies.

What Can Be Done?

To help all those in need, a long-term strategy, i.e. the social code, was developed. Some deputies of the seventh convocation reviewed the draft and rated it as disappointing and unhelpful. They criticized the code for missing the essential thing – the prompt revision of the mechanism of assignment of benefits for the poor, which is one of the main drawbacks of the Kazakh social welfare system.

Kazakhstan is planning to apply new approaches to determine the poverty line which will be done only in 2025. In order to improve the poverty situation, the new code and its implementation must be revised.

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