Can Sustainable Poverty Reduction be Achieved with Little or no Economic Growth? The Case of Jamaica

Denis Medvedev, Zafer Mustafaoglu, Andresa Lagerborg, Michiel Paris


After little change in poverty between 1997 and 2002, Jamaicas poverty headcount halved between 2003 and 2007 despite slow GDP growth. This paper analyzes the factors contributing to the observed reduction in poverty using household and labor force surveys. It sets out by providing a sectoral, demographic, and spatial picture of the evolution of poverty and finds that poverty reduction has been broad based, benefitting both rural and urban areas. Nearly three quarters of the poverty reduction is attributed to growth in average household consumption, which outpaced GDP growth, and one quarter to narrowing inequality. Around half of the reduction of inequality is attributed to falling returns to education and a narrowing of sectoral wage differences.


Jamaica, poverty, inequality

Full Text:



Aschauer, D. 1989. Is Public Expenditure Productive? Journal of Monetary Economics 23: 177-282.

Deaton, Angus. 1997. The Analysis of Household Surveys: A Microeconometric Approach to Development Policy, Baltimore and London: John Hopkins U. Press for World Bank.

Ellis, H. 1991. "Identifying Crime Correlates in a Developing Society." New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.

Fajnzylber, P., D. Lederman and N. Loayza. 2000. Crime and Victimization: An Economic Perspective. Economia: Journal of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association 1(1): 219-78.

Francis, A., A. Harriott, C. Kirton and G. Gibbison. 2003. Crime and Development: The Jamaican Experience. University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.

Hauptmeier, S., Heipertz, M. and L. Schuknecht. 2006. Expenditure Reform in Industrialised Countries: A Case Study Approach ECB Working Paper No. 634.

Heckman, J. 1974. Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica 42(4): 679-94.

Kakwani, N. 1984. Welfare ranking of income distributions, Advances in Econometrics 3, 191213.

Kim, N. 2007. The Impact of Remittances on Labor Supply: The Case of Jamaica, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4120.

Mincer, J. 1974. Schooling, Experience, and Earnings New York: NBER and Columbia University Press.

Perry, G., O. Arias, J. Lpez, W. Maloney, and L. Servn. 2006. Poverty Reduction and Growth: Virtuous and Vicious Circles. World Bank, Washington, DC.

The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). 2008. Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions 2007. Kingston, Jamaica.

Ravallion, M., and S. Chen. 2003. Measuring pro-poor growth, Economic Letters 78: 93-99.

Shorrocks, A. 1983. Ranking Income Distributions Economica, New Series, 50 (197): 3-17.

World Bank. 2004. Jamaica The Road to Sustained Growth. Country Economic Memorandum. World Bank, Washington, DC.

World Bank. 2007. "Jamaica - Poverty Assessment : Breaking the Cycle of Unemployment, Vulnerability and Crime." World Bank, Washington, DC.


E-ISSN 2038-1379 -  2009-2024 University of Perugia