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Poverty in Asia and the Pacific: An Update


  • Wan , Guanghua

    (Asian Development Bank)

  • Sebastian, Iva

    (Asian Development Bank)


Poverty reduction in the Asia and the Pacific region in 2005–2008 had been quite significant. Despite the global crisis, an estimated 150 million people exited extreme poverty by 2008—from 903.4 million in 2005 to 753.5 million, bringing the percentage of people living under the $1.25 per day poverty line to 21.9% from 27.1% in 2005. Poverty reduction was uneven across countries and between subregions. East Asia—particularly the People’s Republic of China (PRC)—outperformed the rest. Unfortunately, for a few countries there had been an increase in the number of poor—under both the $1.25 and $2 per day poverty lines. This can be attributed to faster population growth than poverty reduction. The ranking of the large poor countries remained the same. In 2008, India continued as home to the largest number of the region's poor, followed by the PRC, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan. While a significant number moved out of extreme poverty, the number of moderately poor— those living between $1.25 and $2 per day—dropped only marginally, by around 18.4 million. Using the $2 per day poverty line, 47.4% of the region's total population or 1.63 billion can be classified as poor in 2008. Fourteen of the 25 Asian Development Bank (ADB) developing member countries (DMCs) had headcount ratios above 40%. In particular, poverty reduction was slower in low-income DMCs than the others under both the $1.25 and $2 per day poverty lines, implying the need for continued financial support for poverty reduction. Due to the global crisis, poverty reduction became slower. Between 2008 and 2009, based on projections, the number of the poor is estimated to have increased in 9 and 10 of the 25 DMCs, under the $1.25 per day and $2 poverty lines, respectively. Asia and the Pacific region remains home to the largest number of the world’s poor. In 2008, around 63% of the poor worldwide lived in the region.

Suggested Citation

  • Wan , Guanghua & Sebastian, Iva, 2011. "Poverty in Asia and the Pacific: An Update," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 267, Asian Development Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:adbewp:0267
    Note: URL:

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    Cited by:

    1. Brooks, Douglas H. & Joshi, Kaushal & McArthur, John W. & Rhee, Changyong & Wan, Guanghua, 2014. "A ZEN approach to post-2015 development goals for Asia and the Pacific," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 392-401.
    2. Iris Claus & Les Oxley & Chen Wang & Guanghua Wan & Dan Yang, 2014. "Income Inequality In The People'S Republic Of China: Trends, Determinants, And Proposed Remedies," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(4), pages 686-708, September.
    3. Dulal, Hari Bansha & Shah, Kalim U. & Sapkota, Chandan & Uma, Gengaiah & Kandel, Bibek R., 2013. "Renewable energy diffusion in Asia: Can it happen without government support?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 301-311.
    4. Guanghua Wan, 2012. "Towards Greater Equality in China: The Economic Growth Dividend," Working Papers 2012/33, Maastricht School of Management.

    More about this item


    poverty; poverty measurement; Asia and the Pacific;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General


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