Health

Rapid growth of overweight and obesity in Indonesia: Increasing risk for the poor

Rapid growth of overweight and obesity in Indonesia: Increasing risk for the poor
New ADBI research (Aizawa and Helble, forthcoming) studies how overweight and obesity have become major threats to public health in Indonesia. The evidence shows that obesity, which was previously a problem among high-income groups in the country, has spread across all income groups. Obesity in the lower-income groups, in particular, has been rising rapidly. Overweight and obesity significantly increase the risk of suffering from a large number of chronic conditions. Lower income groups are particularly ill-prepared to face continuously high health expenditures, as health systems remain weak. Urgent policy action is needed to mitigate the risk of these groups of falling into poverty due to high health expenditures caused by diseases related to obesity. Read more.
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Economics

Kuroda should rethink the quest for 2 percent inflation

Kuroda should rethink the quest for 2 percent inflation
The Bank of Japan had a difficult start into 2016. The latest data shows that inflation in the last quarter of 2015 was lower than expected. Furthermore, doubts are increasing about the recovery of the economy. At the end of January, BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda surprised markets by announcing negative interest rates for certain commercial bank deposits at the BOJ. On March 1 Japan started to sell government bonds with a yield below zero. Market observers expect even bolder steps later this year. Read more.
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Infrastructure, Regional Cooperation

Boosting South Asia integration through the realization of dream projects

Boosting South Asia integration through the realization of dream projects
Despite strong linkages in the past during the colonial period and strong ethnic and traditional ties, South Asian countries have become increasingly more diverse since their independence. While they are geographically closely connected, this does not mean that they are well integrated. Countries in the region have vastly different sizes, populations, and topography, and there are significant differences in their economies and income per capita. The conditions, however, might be ripe for a boost in regional integration. Implementing highly visible and symbolic transport connectivity projects, which have long been considered as dream realizations, would trigger the acceleration of regional integration for the benefit of all. Read more.
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Economics, Finance

Budgeting data gaps and fiscal policy debate

Budgeting data gaps and fiscal policy debate
Singapore has regularly reported considerable surpluses in its annual fiscal budget. Budget surpluses have been an essential part of the country’s growth strategy (Asher et al. 2015) as they are perceived to provide a signal of sound public sector financial management to foreign investors, key stakeholders in Singapore’s development planning. Budget surpluses also enable the corporate income tax rate to be kept among the lowest in the world, at 17%. Other policies—such as having a relatively large inflow of foreign workers that depresses at the lower end and almost no taxes on most forms of capital gains and domestic interest income—contribute to the high share of capital income in national income at around 55%, with labor’s share at around 40%–42%, in contrast to the pattern in OECD countries. Read more.
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Economics, Regional Cooperation

Learning from firms in East Asian production networks

Learning from Firms in East Asian Production Networks
Slowing growth in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) – the world’s second largest economy – is grabbing the headlines with some suggesting a third wave of the 2008 global financial crisis. While this topic deserves attention because of its global economic implications, there is insufficient analysis of firms in global production networks (GPNs), which were at the forefront of the economic transformation in PRC and the rest of East Asia, and lessons for latecomers to GPNs. Read more.
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Economics

The PRC’s growth prospects

China’s growth prospects
The PRC’s diminished growth prospects have figured prominently in recent commentaries about global economic conditions and world stock markets (e.g. Frankel 2016). The general view, with which I concur, is that the PRC will grow in the future at a much slower rate than it has in recent decades. This growth slowdown will reduce international trade and has probably contributed already to the depression in oil prices (Blanchard 2016). Read more.
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Regional Cooperation, Trade

A snapshot of e-commerce in Central Asia

A snapshot of e-commerce in Central Asia
In 2015, Central Asia made some important improvements in the environment for cross-border e-commerce: Kazakhstan's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will boost commercial transparency, while the Kyrgyz Republic’s membership in the Eurasian Customs Union expands its consumer base. Why e-commerce? Two reasons. First, e-commerce reduces the cost of distance. Central Asia is the highest trade cost region in the world: vast distances from major markets make finding buyers challenging, shipping goods slow, and export prices high. Second, e-commerce can help pull in populations that are traditionally under-represented in export markets such as women, small businesses and rural entrepreneurs. Read more.
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Education

CET funding strategy for vulnerable workers

CET funding strategy for vulnerable workers
Research has demonstrated that in general, training has a positive impact on an individual’s labor market performance: wages grow faster after training, training has positive impact on employment security, and training increases the probability of re-employment after job loss. A recent adult skills survey released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2013 re-emphasized that adult learning or continuing education and training (CET) can play an important role in the development and maintenance of key information skills and the acquisition of other knowledge and skills that are necessary for keeping pace with the changing work environment. Read more.
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Infrastructure

South Asia could be linchpin for regional integration

South Asia could be linchpin for regional integration
As the world deals with the "new normal" of a slowing China, regional financial and economic integration is more important than ever, and South Asia is strategically poised to play an influential part. There are several reasons why it is time to take a fresh look at the potential bridging role of South Asian economies in Asian integration. First, the South Asian economies -- which comprise India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives, Afghanistan and Bhutan -- have a largely untapped market of about 1.7 billion people, and they belong to the South Asian Free Trade Area. Read more.
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Infrastructure, Social Development and Poverty

On the unintended consequences of housing policies: A cautionary tale of three developed countries

On the unintended consequences of housing policies
Lack of affordable housing is a serious policy concern in many countries. In large prosperous cities such as London, New York, Beijing, or Tokyo, the affordability crisis is particularly acute. In these cities, households often live in excessively expensive and crammed spaces. Homeownership remains an unachievable dream for many. Not surprisingly, voters in these places pressure politicians into implementing policies that tackle the crisis. Read more.
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