This study estimates ex ante poverty and vulnerability of households in Bangladesh using Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) data in 2005. Our results show that poverty is not the same as vulnerability as a substantial share of those currently above the poverty line is highly vulnerable to poverty in the future. The study finds that agricultural households or those without education are likely to be the most vulnerable. The geographical diversity of vulnerability is considerable, for example, vulnerability in a coastal division, i.e., Chittagoan Division is almost double to that of Dhaka and almost four times higher than Khulna Division. It is suggested that ex ante measures to prevent households from becoming poor as well as ex post measures to alleviate those already in poverty should be combined in evaluating poverty. In designing policies one should take note of the diverse nature of poverty and vulnerability. For the chronically poor who lack economic assets, priority should be given to reduction of consumption fluctuations and building up assets through a combination of protective and promotional programmes. Access to financial services, for example, through micro credit programmes, might help poor households build up assets as it smoothes income and consumption, enables the purchase of inputs and productive assets, and provides protection against crises. On the other hand, the transient poor and high vulnerable non-poor households are most likely to benefit from combination of prevention, protection, and promotion which would give them a more secure base to diversify their activity into higher-return, higher risk activities.
CPRC Working Paper No. 141, Chronic Poverty Research Centre, London, UK, ISBN: 978-1-906433-42-0, 28 pp.