Poverty in Tonga

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Poverty Verification Survey in response to COVID-19

The Tongan Government is planning stimulus packages aimed at poor households to help alleviate the difficulties of COVID-19. To determine those that are applicable for the stimulus packages, the Statistics Department have conducted verification survey fieldwork (April...

For Tonga there are two poverty measurements: extreme poverty and multidimensional poverty.

Building on the Consensual Approach, the National Statistics Office developed Tonga’s multidimensional poverty measure to create a more valid and nuanced picture of poverty in Tonga.

The poor are those who experience both low income and are also materially and socially deprived.

Income is measured at the household level -reflecting the sharing of resources among household members – and takes into account both monetary (e.g. wages) and non-monetary sources (e.g. self-production).

Deprivation is captured through an index of socially perceived necessities -items and activities that the majority of people in Tonga consider that no-one should go without-.

Different indices are used for children and adults to acknowledge the specific needs of children. The income poverty line is set at TOP$944 per month for children,  and TOP$970 per month for adults. According to this national definition, in Tonga, 27% of the population are poor: they are deprived and live in a low-income household. Child poverty rates are higher than adult poverty rates, with 33% of children living in poverty compared to 23% of adults, that’s one in three children compared to almost one in four adults.


Multidimensional poverty by age group (%)
Population Adults Children
Poor 27 23 33
Vulnerable deprivation 14 14 16
Vulnerable income 22 25 19
Non-poor 36 39 32
Total population (N) 101,804 63,448 12,180

Extreme poverty is measured as people living on less than the equivalent of $1.90 per person per day. For Tonga, $1.90 is equivalent to $3.10 pa’anga (in 2016 prices).

Population living below $1.90 a day
Year 2001 2009 2016
% 2.8 1.1 3.1

Source: World Bank, 2016


Assessing Progress Towards The Eradication of Poverty in the Kingdom of Tonga

Supplementary literature

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