Determinants of Vulnerability to Poverty
The OLS regression result revealed the expected sign for most of the significant variables, except debt accessibility and household sizes, whereas the insignificant variables had a low value of β
that was almost zero (Table 7
Piya et al.
) explained that access to loans could be a social safety net to overcome all types of shocks. However, in this study, credit accessibility revealed an unexpected sign. In the case of borrowing money, households must pay the interest rate, and borrowing from the informal sector made it difficult to pay back due to high interest rates. A loan was good only if a household took it to invest or operate another business to generate extra income; in contrast, in Koh Kong, people borrow money for different purposes include housing renovation, daily consumption, and debt repayment. These activities could not improve the vulnerability to poverty, and will only make it worse in the next period. Using the national poverty line, the study found that a household that did have access to a loan had a vulnerability 0.22 higher compared to those that did not have access to a loan.
For household sizes, some studies indicated that an increase in family members would induce vulnerability, while others suggested that the nature of household members should be carefully considered because their influence depended on whether they were a dependent or a source of labor for the household. Ligon and Schechter
) found out that a large family would likely increase the dependency ratio, which would reduce the average income per household. However, if a greater number of the family members provided labor, then it would help the household to lower their vulnerability. Opiyo et al.
) revealed that household size contributed to reduce the vulnerability. The result of this study showed the negative impact of household size on the vulnerability degree by 0.02.
This study showed the expected results of the significant role of education, agricultural dependency, housing quality, income diversification, possessing of livestock, and information sharing.
For education, the study revealed that the education of the head of household could reduce the vulnerability to poverty. A one-year increase in formal education reduced the vulnerability by 0.01. The significant role of education has been recognized as a means for vulnerability reduction (Mendoza et al. 2014
; Megersa 2015
; Ncube et al. 2016
). Moreover, this study found that the head of the family received formal education for only around five years on average, which is far below the national policy target, and that, typically, only one member of a family had finished 9th grade (Table 1
). Most of the household heads did not receive proper or qualified education during their adulthood. In this study, about two-thirds of respondents were female whose cultural constraint remained an obstacle; this situation still exists in many developing countries, including Cambodia.
Agricultural dependency could improve the situation of the household as it served as food security; however, in an urban area, a household that strongly depended on agriculture tended to be exposed to more risks, and it also limited their opportunity to work in other sectors. The result confirmed that agricultural dependency positively influenced the level of vulnerability. As stated in a cross-country study of Mendoza et al.
), that agriculture dependency is more exposed to climate-related disasters, especially drought for Cambodia. Ludeña and Yoon
) pointed out that agricultural dependency often led to social and economic stress.
Piya et al.
) identified that high livestock share was likely to increase sensitivity to climate hazards. In terms of the livestock assets, the study showed that possessing livestock resulted in a vulnerability level 0.10 higher than those who did not. Livestock was exposed to heat stress and disease. The sustained increase in temperature caused the scarcity of grassland. Furthermore, small-scale livestock assets made households pay less attention to their animal, so during prolonged flooding their livestock was sensitive to infectious diseases and ecological change.
) found that agricultural assets played a less important role for urban residents compared to human and physical assets such as housing. Chen et al.
) also revealed the significant role of housing quality to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards. The result from this study also showed that better housing quality contributed to lower vulnerability.
Although livelihood diversification seemed to be an effective method to strengthen adaptive capacity and to reduce vulnerability, it could also disrupt the skill and productivity of a household. Liu et al.
) emphasized that specialization played an important role in adaptation. Nonetheless, Andersen and Cardona
) indicated the crucial role of livelihood diversification as a strategy of resilience in their study on the comparison between urban and rural households in Bolivia. Kelly and Adger
) also emphasized that income diversification could lessen inequality and poverty. This study revealed that a diversified household had a lower rate of vulnerability compared to a non-diversified household.
High exposure and low adaptive capacity could be associated with a lack of knowledge and information of climate change. The sharing of information related to climate hazards played an important role, since many households depended on fishery activities. This study confirmed that the level of information sharing would contribute to the decline of vulnerability.
Gaiha and Imai
) found a negative impact of the age of the head of household on the level of vulnerability. The head of household tended to build up more experience to counter vulnerability as they grew older. Besides, Andersen and Cardona
) also emphasized that the more mature household had more time to accumulate wealth as an alternative source of their livelihood. This study showed the expected sign to support this argument, although it was not significant.
) emphasized the crucial role of government intervention and coordination among relevant stakeholders to strengthen adaptive capacity in developing countries. In terms of government assistance, the result produced the expected sign, but it was not significant. To some extent, assistance reached the vulnerable group, although the size of government assistance was relatively small and could not help families recover from a shock.
The study indicated that healthcare accessibility could contribute to the decline of vulnerability to poverty. As Oni and Yusuf
) found that disease was the main agent in transforming non-vulnerable groups to vulnerable groups. Access to healthcare services could provide a human asset to improve a household’s economic condition.
Lastly, the exposure index showed the unexpected sign and turned out to be not significant. However, in a correlation study, a positive relationship between climate-related exposure and vulnerability was found, so the result of the negative sign in the regression study could be due to the interaction among predictor variables in the study.