WILL THIS BE THE 'ASIAN CENTURY'?
Embracing globalisation and regional co-operation has helped bring Asia success. Greater economic access and inclusion, and improved governance, would bring further gains
Stephen P Groff
The Guardian, April 18, 2012
Asia's rapid rise is the most successful story of economic development in recent history. Income per capita reached nearly $5,000 in purchasing power parity terms in 2010. Investment rates averaged 35% of GDP over the decade. The number of people living below the $1.25-a-day poverty line fell by 430 million between 2005 and 2010.
With such achievements at a time when much of the rest of the world struggles with austerity measures and economic recovery, Asian leaders might be tempted to switch to autopilot. But closer examination of the region's economic and social prospects soon reveals many paradoxes.
The world's fastest growing region remains home to nearly half the world's extreme poor. While Asia has made tremendous inroads in the fight against poverty, not enough of the region's economic prosperity is reaching its poorest people.
In urban areas of China, for example, the Gini coefficient (a measurement used to calculate inequality) has risen more than 35% since 1990. Nearly half a billion Asians still lack access to safe drinking water and infant mortality in many nations is more than 10 times higher than the levels seen in developed economies.
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