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Economic Survey: Social indicators

By Syed M. Aslam
July 09 - 15 , 2001

Economic Survey is the annual pre-budget document published by the government. The statistics compiled and printed by the government can help us understanding the economic progress, or lack of it. PAGE has picked out selective economic, social and financial indicators, collated them whereever necessary and analysed them to better understand what they imply.

Health & Population

The total number of hospital beds in Pakistan increased from 72,997 in 1990 to 93,907 in the year 2000 . Though this depicted an over 28 per cent increase the population per bed increased marginally by just 1 per cent from 1,480 to 1,495. The otherwise significant increase was neutralised primarily by an unmatched increase in population which grew from 110 million in 1991 to 140 million in 2000, at the compound rate of over 26 per cent.

Similarly, the number of registered doctors rose from 51,883 in 1990 to 91,823 in 2000, depicting a growth of 76 per cent, dentists from 2,077 to 4,175 and nurses from 16,948 to 37,623. While the ratios of population per doctor, dentist and nurse betered during the period under review it still remains high one doctor for 1,529 persons, one dentist for 33,626 persons and one nurse for 3,732 persons.

Pakistan spends a negligible portion of budget on health and nutrition 0.7 per cent of the GNP in 2000-2001. The total public sector expenditure on heath and nutrition; both federal and provincial, development and current, was Rs 24.2 billion in 2000-2001 of which Rs 18.3 billion or 76 per cent of which went to meet recurring expenses leaving just Rs 5.9 million for development.

Population and Employment

Almost 2.3 per cent of the world population resides in Pakistan which houses an estimated 140.5 million people today. This makes the country the 7th most populous country in the world. Six children are born each minute in Pakistan pushing the population by 3.2 million every year. At the going rate Pakistan's population would reach 222 million by the year 2020.

The high birth rate is also adding to the number of illiterates in the country where education and health have never been a priority of the successive governments. The number of illiterates have multipled two-and-half fold from 22 million in 1961 to 54 million this year.

The number of unemployeds have also increased six-fold from 0.4 million in 1970-71 to more than 2.42 million. The sharp rise in the number of unemployeds puts an immense pressure to create the need for increasing jobs by 69 per cent just to keep the unemplyment level at its existing level.

Although, Pakistan's GNP has increased from $ 2.6 billion to $ 61.8 billion in last 50 years it has failed to translate in to a similar increase due primarily to inequality in income distribution. Today almost one-third of the Pakistani population or some 44 million people living below the poverty line. Many countries use more than one definition of poverty and one than one way to measure it. The poverty line is derived in Pakistan on the basis of income which can provide daily intake of 2,250 calories per person which is segregated on the lines of rural and urban 2450 calories per adult equivalent in rural areas and 2,150 in urban areas.

According to the caloric-based method, poverty declined sharply from 46.5 per cent in 1969-70 to 17.3 per cent in 1987-88. However, it increased significantly in the 1990s from 17.3 per cent in 1987-88 to 22.4 per cent in 1992-93 and further to 31 per cent in 1996-97. Recent estimates suggest that poverty has further increased to 33.50 per cent in 1999-2000. As an after thought, that seems to explain the worrying increase in the number of suicides during last few years.

Livestock population and Products

Livestock provides the much needed source of animal protein and calcium from meet and dairy products. Pakistan houses a large number of buffaloes, cattle, goats, sheep and poultry to meet the local demand easily. Since 1990-91 buffalo population has increased from 17.8 million to an estimated 23.3 million presently, cattle from 17.7 million to 22.4 million, goat from 37 million to 49.1 million, sheep from 26.3 million to 24.2 million and poultry from 146.9 million to 292 million.

Livestock products also depict a significant increase during the same period; Production of milk increased from 15.4 million tons to 26.3 million tons; beef from 765,000 tons to over one million tons; mutton marginally by 1,000 tons to 666,000 tons; poultry meat from 151,000 tons to 333,000 tons; and eggs from 4.5 billion to 8.7 billion numbers.


Pakistan generates over 18.25 million tons of solid waste annually or 50,000 tonnes each day of which only 20-25 per cent is collected. Even the garbage that is collected is not managed properly causing serious air, water and land pollution threatening grave risks to public health. One can only imagine the risks that the bulk of uncollected waste pose to the health of the people.