Poverty eradication in Iraq (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1259)



What does the literature indicate are the barriers and opportunities for eradicating poverty in Iraq?


Despite being an oil-rich, lower-middle income country, poverty remains prevalent in Iraq. This rapid review looks at the recent literature on poverty in Iraq and identifies the barriers to, and opportunities for, poverty reduction and eradication.

The literature indicates that:

  • 3.9 per cent of people in Iraq are living in extreme poverty (2012). 18.9 per cent live below the national poverty line (2012), with greater rural poverty than urban poverty. 11.6 per cent of people in Iraq are multi-dimensionally poor (2011).
  • Poverty is significantly higher among larger households, those with less educated heads, women and the young.
  • There are high poverty headcount rates in remote, rural, and sparsely populated areas, although urban and semi-urban areas are often host to more poor people than the poorest parts because of the population size.
  • There are large spatial differences in poverty across, and within, the governorates of Iraq.
  • Poverty reduction has been spatially uneven, falling more in rural than in urban areas in 2007-2012.
  • The wider impact of the current crises is unknown but in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq they have increased poverty in from 3.5 per cent in 2012 up to 8.1 per cent in 2014.

Barriers to poverty eradication include the current financial, security and humanitarian crises, legacies of violence and insecurity, corruption, the brain drain, trade barriers restricting levels of trade and investment, high unemployment and lack of education.

Opportunities for poverty eradication include the use of accurate data to inform poverty policies, ending conflict/peacebuilding, diversifying the economy and strengthening the links between growth, employment and earnings, better targeted social safety nets, improving labour income, shari’ah-compliant and accessible microfinance and growth in the agriculture sector.


Rohwerder, B. Poverty eradication in Iraq (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1259). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2015) 13 pp.

Poverty eradication in Iraq (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1259)

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