Inequality on the rise in Asia

    A crowded street in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The disparity between the rich and the poor is rapidly growing in Asia, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank. Photo by: joiseyshowaa / CC BY-SA

    Asia is facing a dilemma: Economies are rapidly growing, but so is the disparity between the rich and the poor.

    The Asian Development Bank report, “Asian Development Outlook 2012”, reveals that inequalities — in income and opportunities — are rising in the region. And this is very much evident in Asia’s three largest economies: China, India and Indonesia.

    Using the Gini coefficient, the report says inequality in the region has soared from 39 to 46 in the past two decades. Inequality in China rose from 32 to 43 in 2010. Inequality in India (33 to 37) and Indonesia (29 to 39) also increased in the same period.

    This disparity, along with the stagnation of the economies of the Asian countries’ major trade partners, the debt crisis in the eurozone and the political instability in the Middle East, is threatening the pace of growth in Asia.

    So what should the region’s policymakers do?

    The report says governments should put efficient fiscal policies in place, such as shifting government expenditure toward education, health and social safety nets. They should also improve infrastructure to bridge the gap between developed and poor areas, create quality jobs and support the development of small and midsize enterprises, among others.

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    About the author

    • Jenny Lei Ravelo

      Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.