Working Paper
Asset-Based Poverty in Rural Tajikistan

Who Climbs out and Who Falls in?

Tajikistan’s rural sector has witnessed substantial development since the country began to emerge from civil conflict in 1999. Gross agricultural output increased 64 per cent from 1999 to 2003, and there were significant developments in the agricultural reform agenda. This paper uses the panel component of two surveys conducted in Tajikistan at a one-year interval (2003 and 2004) to explore the major determinants of the transition out of/into poverty of rural households. Poverty status is measured in the asset space, thus indicating structural rather than transitory poverty movements. The empirical analysis reveals several interesting findings that are also important from a policy perspective: first, cotton farming seems to have no positive impact on poverty levels, nor on mobility out of poverty. Second, the rate of increase in the share of private farming at the district level had little impact on poverty levels and poverty mobility. Third, there is strong evidence of geographic poverty mobility traps in Tajikistan. Higher levels of poverty in a district appear to reduce significantly the chance of a household shedding poverty. Living in a region with overall slow economic growth is also found to undermine the odds of exiting poverty and to increase the risk of falling into poverty. Finally, several key household-level factors, such as the share of adults, education level, health status and participation in wage employment, also emerge as significant predictors of poverty mobility.