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Pakistan’s Ranking in Social Development: Have We Always Been Backward?

Aisha Ghaus-Pasha and Naeem Ahmed
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Aisha Ghaus-Pasha: Social Policy and Development Centre, Karachi.

The Pakistan Development Review, 1999, vol. 38, issue 4, 739-754

Abstract: Consensus is emerging between development thinkers and practitioners that social progress is a necessary pre-condition for sustained economic growth. Social development leads to higher levels of literacy, better health standards and overall improvement in the society’s living conditions. In fact, empirical evidence suggests that there is a two-way relationship between economic growth and social development [Ghaus-Pasha et al. (1998)]. Economic growth leads to higher revenues for government and higher per capita income, encouraging both public and private spendings on human development. Improvements in social indicators feedback as higher economic growth through enhanced productivity for labour and capital. In other words, well-developed human capital makes a significant contribution to economic growth which, in turn, offers improved welfare and better living conditions. However, if there is a breakdown in this chain and economic development is not translated into social development, then the pace of economic development eventually suffers. Pakistan is an example of a country where this chain has broken. Despite moderate economic growth of about 5 percent during the last decade or so, the state of social indicators leaves a lot to be desired. Currently, the female literacy rate is 33 percent, being somewhat higher for males at 56 percent; primary school enrolment for females is 55 percent, for males 78 percent; and infant mortality rate is 105 out of 1000. Today, Pakistan is ranked 138 in the human development index by the UNDP (1999) among 174 countries. The purpose of this paper is to see the state of social development in Pakistan in the international context.

Date: 1999
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