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Urban Child Poverty: Does Size Matter?

The rapid growth of urban population in Malaysia has created more demand pertaining to the basic needs of people such as affordable housing, access to healthcare and education, and sanitation facilities among others. Correspondingly, urban poverty and income inequality are more pronounced, despite the country’s impressive poverty-reduction track record at the national level. Based on the recent Household Income and Expenditure Report 2016, the bottom 40% of households account for only 16.4% of earnings while the top 20% account for 46.2%. Such persistent inequality is particularly grave in cities where the Gini coefficient is still considerably high at 0.39.

However, this paper aims to look beyond income poverty, at a category of vulnerable people. These people do not fall into the ‘poor’ category as their income is above the government- defined poverty line. The income earned is sufficient to fulfil their basic socioeconomic needs, but there is no additional for a rainy day. In the event of a shock, such as when the main income earner suffers a stroke and is paralyzed, then the household is suddenly ‘poor’. As the finances before were only sufficient to fulfil daily needs, this new ‘event’ makes the household economically vulnerable. Although their income is not below the poverty line, neither are they resilient to avoid poverty - in the event of a catastrophe and have limited opportunities to escape poverty.

READ the Full Paper.


Sudha Sivadas and Dr Normaz Wana Ismail are the authors of “Urban Child Poverty: Does Size Matter?”, which is the winning paper for the Student Research Award of the UNICEF Urban Child Poverty and Deprivation Study of Low-Cost Flats in Kuala Lumpur. Ms Sudha Sivadas is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University Putra Malaysia. Dr Normaz Wana Ismail is an Associate Professor in economics at the Faculty of Economics and Management, University Putra Malaysia.



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