ABSTRACT

Pakistan’s economic growth record, of well over 5 per cent for many decades, with noticeable and not infrequent peaks and troughs, by all accounts, has been quite impressive, especially when compared to other countries at similar levels of economic development. However, the country’s record of economic growth has given rise to a dual paradox. First, the high economic growth trajectory has been reached with very low human development fundamentals, where indicators related to education, literacy, health, and access to water and sanitation, have been lower than what one would expect to be required for a country to achieve Pakistan’s growth levels. This defi ciency in the fundamentals that support growth questions some of the core assumptions of New Growth Theory, in which human development is considered almost a prerequisite for economic growth: Pakistan may have bucked the pattern by achieving high growth with low fundamentals. The second paradox that emerges from an examination of Pakistan’s economic performance is that this relatively high and consistent economic growth has not resulted in an equal improvement in human development indicators to the extent that one would expect. This article is an attempt to try to understand this dual paradox, and suggests, that perhaps while Pakistan may have contradicted the general trend in the past, it may now be moving closer to that general pattern, where the relationship between high growth and better human development indicators is seen to be moving together.