The Social Sectors in Pakistan: A Story of Neglect

  • Shahid Ahmed


Chapters 1 and 2 have argued that economic growth alone is unlikely to prove an adequate driver of wider economic development and that direct investment in the social sectors is needed to make development more sustainable and more inclusive in the long term. In this chapter, we look at the social sectors in depth and focus on their neglect. To be fair to Pakistan, social sector development only really became mainstream in development in the late 1980s; prior to the 1990s, it was assumed that growth alone would at least alleviate, if not solve, the problems of the social sectors and of poverty through its trickle-down effects. In the late 1970s and early1980s, as poverty issues came to the forefront in development, the recommended policy actions were still somewhat ad hoc, and this was true in most developing countries. Indeed, many countries were characterized by rather excessive zeal for catchy initiatives like the ‘basic needs approach’. These initiatives, while well-meaning, were conceptually oversimplified and impractical in their application, merely suggesting that the responsibility of the State lay in topping up the meagre consumption of the poor. The more systematic approach to poverty signified by the MDGs lay some years ahead. Nonetheless enough was now known about the important role of education and health in improving the quality of life of the poor and as public goods for the wider population to indicate that developing countries needed to both increase public spending in these sectors and improve their delivery, especially in the smaller towns and in the rural areas.


Provincial Government Social Sector Ruling Elite Urban Bias Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper 
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Copyright information

© Shahid Ahmed 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shahid Ahmed
    • 1
  1. 1.United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the PacificBangkokThailand

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