Spatial Inequality and Development in Central Asia
This paper focuses on inequality in living standards across oblasts and regions within Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Regional inequality is an important area of research and policy development. Inequality in income and consumption are logical outcomes in a market-based economic system. If inequality within countries exists because of barriers to competition, then inequality can foment internal tension, and economic and social development within countries is negatively affected. We examine Living Standards Measurement data from Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, and Kazakhstan and additional survey data from Uzbekistan. We find that the most important explanations for the variation in expenditures per capita in the region are household location, household composition, and education. We find large variation in per capita expenditure by location within each country, and the differences go beyond the simple rural-urban distinction. Family structure is also important, and in all countries, having a university educated household head significantly improves household welfare; expenditures are higher in these households than in households with less educated heads. We examine inequality in access to community services and find that provision of public goods reinforces regional inequality patterns in expenditures that we measure among households. The poorest households are likely to live in communities with the lowest access to public services.