Have Economic Growth And Institutional Quality Contributed To Poverty And Inequality Reduction In Asia?
While economic growth has been cited as one of the main factors behind the reduction in absolute poverty, the persisting problem of poverty in developing countries has raised doubts about the efficacy of economic growth in its reduction. Recent evidence revealed that growth in Asia has been accompanied by an increase in relative poverty, or income inequality. High income inequality can slow the rate of poverty reduction, and create social unrest and anxiety. The quality of institutions may also influence the extent to which economic growth reduces poverty. This study examines the effects of economic growth and institutional quality on poverty and income inequality in nine developing countries of Asia for the period 1985-2009. The System Generalized Method of Moments (GMM) estimation method is employed to estimate the equations. While economic growth does not appear to have an effect on income inequality, the results confirm that such growth leads to poverty reduction. Although improvements in government stability and law and order are found to reduce poverty, improvements in the level of corruption, democratic accountability, and bureaucratic quality appear to increase poverty levels. Similarly, the results also show that improvements in corruption, democratic accountability, and bureaucratic quality are associated with a worsening of the income distribution. This study recommends that measures taken to improve the level of institutional quality in developing countries of East and South Asia should address the problems of poverty and income distribution, while adopting policies to support informal sector workers who may be affected by institutional reform.
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