Thursday, July 23, 2015


From: John <>
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 2015 17:00:40 +0200
Conversation: "Poverty" Datum Line update
Subject: "Poverty" Datum Line update

An Update of the Poverty Datum Line statistics shows that the average fall in prices matches the fall recorded in the differently constructed Consumer Price Index, the average price levels having fallen by 2,7% between May 2014 and May 2015. However, this analysis shows significant differences between the various centres in the country. Average prices in Harare fell by 6%, but in some centres, the average increased over the year. In  the table below, prices are seen to have increased in Mashonaland Central, Matableland South and Mashonaland East. The steepest fall in prices during the year was in Matabeleland North, where they came down by 8,9%, but prices in that area had been significantly higher than in the rest of the country through the year. On average, in May this year it cost an individual about $20 more than the national average to pay for a month’s basic requirements, but in May 2014, the additional costs for Matableland North residents came to about $28.

The summary table below shows these comparisons, but the full table is attached. In the rows at the bottom of the table I have included the CPI so that it can be compared to the PDL.

I would continue to argue that the use of the word Poverty in the title of this table is incorrect. The exercise makes no claims that individuals on incomes lower than about $100 a month are suffering malnutrition or other poverty-related stresses. If this amount is being earned or received, the figure would place Zimbabwean workers above the one to two dollars a day averages that apply in a great many Third World countries. In Zimbabwe, the problem has been exaggerated by a trades union practice of claiming the Poverty Datum Line to be five times the average usually calculated for an individual. This is to allow for the supposed average of five dependents per worker, but this has been one of the causes of wage levels becoming too high to permit Zimbabwean producers to be competitive against the costs of imports.

I will continue to monitor this series and to send you updates when I can.

Kindest regards,


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