Poverty in Asia and the Pacific: An Update
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.
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