Pakistan’s Living Standards Continue to Decline: PSLM 2019-20 Survey

The Pakistan Social and Living Standard Measurement (PSLM) survey for 2019-20 shows that apart from urban areas and metropolitan cities, the living standards of Pakistanis in nearly all provinces continues to remain abysmal. The PSLM survey assesses the districts with respect to human development conditions such as education, health and living standards.

The survey – conducted nationwide with a sample size of 6,500 blocks and 19,500 households – reveals that 14pc households experience moderate food insecurity while 2pc households suffer from severe food insecurity. The prevalence of moderate and severe rates of food insecurity is the highest in Balochistan province with 23pc, and the lowest in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 14pc.

During the first wave of COVID-19, a special module was utilized for the PSLM survey evaluating the socio-economic impact of the pandemic: it revealed that 30pc of households experienced moderate food insecurity whereas an additional 10pc households suffered from severe food insecurity.
The 2019-20 survey showed that the literacy rate for those aged 10 years and above remained at 60pc: the same value as per its 2014-15 survey. The literacy rates for Sindh provinces declined, and net enrollments at various levels of education have either remained the same or declined across all provinces.

The PSLM survey found that while the social and living standards were satisfactory in Punjab, districts in southern Punjab were lagging behind in all measured indicators. Similarly, while indicators showed relative stability in Karachi and Hyderabad, they showed poor performance for all other districts of Sindh. The situation was no different for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or for Balochistan: only Peshawar, Abbottabad, Haripur, Quetta and Pishin were found to be the exceptions of an overall degradation and worsening of living standards in Pakistan’s most ignored provinces.

In terms of all measured health indicators, the 2019-20 survey showed some improvements as compared to the PSLM survey conducted in 2014-15. Variables for children immunization as well as mother and child health have been on an upward trajectory. However, there is a sharp differentiation between health indicators across provinces.

While the survey shows that internet use has increased substantially, a significant gender gap remains palpable. 65pc of males own mobile phones as compared to 25pc of females, while 24pc of males are using the internet as compared to only 14pc of females.