Malaysia adjusts poverty line income: 400,000 households considered poor


Malaysia more than doubled its national poverty line income from 980 ringgit ($230) to 2,208 ringgit ($518) after the United Nations in a report stated that the previous poverty line income – reflecting a national poverty rate of just 0.4 per cent, the lowest in the world – was “misleadingly low and unrealistic”.

At the new level, more than 400,000 households in the country were considered poor as of 2019, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) revealed. This brings the absolute poverty rate to 5.6 per cent.

In announcing the new national poverty line income, Malaysia’s chief statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin explained that the new figure was obtained based on changes in methodology that now emphasised healthy eating and quality basic needs.

He said the DOSM worked with various stakeholders including the health ministry to revise the national poverty line income, following the 11th Malaysia Plan’s launch where it was stated that there was a need for Malaysia to review its poverty level indicator.

New minimum requirements in adjusted methodology

The previous 2005 methodology, which determined the national poverty line income of 980 ringgit, was based on the minimum food requirements of each household member and non-food items based on the spending patterns of the country’s bottom 20-per cent group.

Under the new methodology, calculations for the food component of the poverty line income are now based on servings according to food categories that are converted to price, instead of the previous methodology based on the individual’s calories requirements. As for non-food items, those covered are clothing and shoes, housing, fuel and utilities, furniture, transport and communications, as well as  education and health.

Using the new methodology to determine the poverty rate in previous years, it shows that absolute poverty in Malaysia decreased from 7.6 per cent in 2016 to the above mentioned 5.6 per cent in 2019.

Malaysia more than doubled its national poverty line income from 980 ringgit ($230) to 2,208 ringgit ($518) after the United Nations in a report stated that the previous poverty line income – reflecting a national poverty rate of just 0.4 per cent, the lowest in the world – was "misleadingly low and unrealistic". At the new level, more than 400,000 households in the country were considered poor as of 2019, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) revealed. This brings the absolute poverty rate to 5.6 per cent. In announcing the new national poverty line income, Malaysia’s chief statistician Mohd Uzir...


Malaysia more than doubled its national poverty line income from 980 ringgit ($230) to 2,208 ringgit ($518) after the United Nations in a report stated that the previous poverty line income – reflecting a national poverty rate of just 0.4 per cent, the lowest in the world – was “misleadingly low and unrealistic”.

At the new level, more than 400,000 households in the country were considered poor as of 2019, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) revealed. This brings the absolute poverty rate to 5.6 per cent.

In announcing the new national poverty line income, Malaysia’s chief statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin explained that the new figure was obtained based on changes in methodology that now emphasised healthy eating and quality basic needs.

He said the DOSM worked with various stakeholders including the health ministry to revise the national poverty line income, following the 11th Malaysia Plan’s launch where it was stated that there was a need for Malaysia to review its poverty level indicator.

New minimum requirements in adjusted methodology

The previous 2005 methodology, which determined the national poverty line income of 980 ringgit, was based on the minimum food requirements of each household member and non-food items based on the spending patterns of the country’s bottom 20-per cent group.

Under the new methodology, calculations for the food component of the poverty line income are now based on servings according to food categories that are converted to price, instead of the previous methodology based on the individual’s calories requirements. As for non-food items, those covered are clothing and shoes, housing, fuel and utilities, furniture, transport and communications, as well as  education and health.

Using the new methodology to determine the poverty rate in previous years, it shows that absolute poverty in Malaysia decreased from 7.6 per cent in 2016 to the above mentioned 5.6 per cent in 2019.

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