PH income inequality rising – ADB report

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The Philippines is one of the countries in Asia-Pacific where income inequality is increasing, along with China, India, Indonesia and the Russian Federation, despite economic gains in the region, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.

The Manila-based bank acknowledged that the Philippines has been taking measures to address the problem.

In a report called “Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing Asia-Pacific,” ADB said about 400 million people in the region still confront poverty as part of their daily lives due to widening income inequality, despite impressive gains in reducing income poverty in recent decades.

On top of the 400 million people—or one in 10—living in extreme poverty in the region, more than one in four people in Asia and the Pacific’s developing countries experience poverty in multiple dimensions, the report said.
This includes additional deprivations that impact their health, education and standard of living, it added.


The new report, launched on Wednesday by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the ADB and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said more than 60 percent of the region’s population lives in countries in which income inequality is rising.

“Income inequality, as measured by the Gini Index or the Palma Index, remains stubbornly high (above the world average) and has increased in China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Russian Federation, among other countries,” it said.

A table in the publication showed that the share of Philippine population living on income less than the national poverty line stayed above 20 percent in the year 2010 to 2013, but slightly higher than in 2000 to 2004.

However, the report recognized the Philippines’ efforts to reduce income inequality by improving information communications technology (ICT) access and connectivity, sanitation, national planning and women empowerment.

“Digital connectivity enables innovative solutions to a range of issues, from women’s safety in cities (such as Safetipin), participatory city planning and budgeting (such as the Kita Kota initiative) and solid waste management in cities (such as MakeMyIsland) to early warning systems for typhoons and floods (such as a GIZ Philippines initiative) and real-time information to help stop epidemics (for example, in India),” it said.

“Cities are making efforts to manage their solid waste problems… The Smokey Mountain dumpsite of the Philippines has been closed, and most of the residents relocated to other areas, although similar landfills still exist in surrounding areas,” it said.

The report also made the following observations:

Several countries in Asia and the Pacific are beginning to use more comprehensive indicators than income to measure and target poverty;

The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), as discussed, is one example that allows for countries to reflect their own context and realities into their poverty measurements;

The Government of the Philippines incorporated the MPI into its 2011–2016 development plan and used it to set poverty reduction targets;

While women earn less than men in almost all Asian and Pacific countries, with the exception of the Philippines and Turkey;

The female share of top management in South-East Asia was above the Asian average of 14.4 percent, led by the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore.

Recommendations

The report underscored the importance of addressing poverty through pro-poor urbanization, effective management of rural-urban transitions and investment in sustainable infrastructure.

Although people in extreme income poverty are more likely to live in rural areas, they are increasingly found in cities, and therefore, the provision of high quality, low-carbon and resilient infrastructure is essential.

The report also recommended effective action on eradicating poverty, while tackling the systemic, sociocultural and geographic factors that underpin marginalization, exclusion, and lack of human rights protection.

The number of people likely to be in vulnerable employment in the region is now greater than the global average, for example, and women are particularly affected. Measures to ensure that all people can benefit from growth in the region on an equal footing are needed, it added.

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