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114 CHAPTER 5


Figure 5.1 The evolution of poverty reduction in Tunisia, 1990–2000 10


8 6 4 2 0


Poverty incidence (%)


Number of poor (hundred thousands)


1990 Source: World Bank (2003a).


40 percent in 1960 to 11 percent in 1985 and to 7.4 percent in 1990. The pov- erty rate stagnated between 1990 and 1995 (8.1 percent)1 but resumed its decline between 1995 and 2000, when its incidence reached the lowest level (4.1 percent). At the same time, the population growth rate declined and life expectancy increased markedly, regional disparities were reduced, and improvements were achieved in education, access to health care, and basic infrastructure. The distribution of income improved until 1990, as the Gini coefficient fell from 0.434 in 1985 to 0.401 in 1990. It was estimated at 0.417 in 1995 and 0.409 in 2000. Average per capita expenditures for the lowest deciles of the population moved closer to mean expenditures for the country as a whole. In absolute terms, the number of the poor increased from 600,000 in 1990 to 690,000 in 1995 and fell to 400,000 in 2000 (World Bank 2003a). Given that the distribution of consumption is quite steep near the poverty line, many households are vulnerable to sliding back into poverty. Regarding the characteristics of the poor in Tunisia, poverty remains pri- marily a rural phenomenon. In 2000, the incidence of rural poverty was 8.3 percent compared to 0.8 percent in metropolitan areas and 2.3 percent in other urban areas (Table 5.8). Rural areas, with less than 40 percent of the total population, accounted for 74 percent of the poor in 2000 compared to 76 percent in 1990 (World Bank 2003a).


1 Using a new World Bank and Institut National de la Statistique poverty line (World Bank 2003a).


1995


2000


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