About Matthias HelbleMatthias Helble is a senior economist and co-chair, Research, Asian Development Bank Institute.
Increased prosperity in Asia and the Pacific has led to lifestyle changes with unwanted impacts. Studies have shown that as a result of economic progress, regions are shifting to a diet that is linked with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), particularly overweight and obesity. The World Health Organization estimates for 2015 show that about 15 million people aged 30–69 years die annually because of NCDs (Waqanivalu 2018).
Trade in health products has been flourishing as more and more people demand better health. But countries around the world still apply tariffs and nontariff measures that jack up prices and curb the entry of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and medical equipment.
Africa and Asia are latecomers to urbanization. In these two continents, less than half live in urban centers, while elsewhere, more than 70% of people do. But Africa and Asia are now rapidly urbanizing, with Asian cities growing at an average of 1.5% per year and Africa’s at 1.1% per year.
Japan and the United States (US) are at similar levels of economic development, yet their income distributions are considerably different. Whereas Japan has a relatively equal income distribution, the US is marked by a high level of income inequality. What are the sources of income inequality in both countries? Our latest research aims to uncover the sources on income inequality in both countries by exploiting detailed household panel survey.
Trade in health products has increased substantially over the past 2decades, and tariffs on health products have been lowered, making, for example, medicines more affordable for many.Indeed, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 calls upon countries to ensure healthy lives and to promote well-being for all ages. Yet in several developing countries, substantial tariffs still persist, inflating the prices of health products. The most direct and immediate contribution of the trade community toward achieving SDG 3 couldbe to open up trade unilaterally or to negotiate a plurilateral trade agreement, which would guarantee free market access for health products, like much-needed medicines.
By Matthias Helble. Posted January 27, 2017
The biggest intergovernmental conference on housing and urbanization, Habitat III, took place in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016. The main outcome of the conference was the adoption of the New Urban Agenda (NUA). The NUA does not consider urbanization as an obstacle to development but rather a key development driver. Providing adequate and affordable housing is one key theme in the NUA. It stresses the need to promote not only homeownership but also other types of tenure, such as cohousing.
Asia is urbanizing rapidly. Currently, about half of all of its residents live in urban areas, and the number of urban residents in Asia is expected to reach 3.3 billion by 2050. The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) estimated that at the current urbanization rate, 127,000 people are added to urban centers every day in Asia.
By Matthias Helble. Posted June 23, 2016
A U.S. decision to block the reappointment of Seung Wha Chang, a South Korean member of the appellate body of the World Trade Organization, has put at risk the independence and credibility of the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism -- the crown jewels of the multilateral trading system. After the de facto collapse of the Doha round of talks on further trade liberalization the U.S. move is a serious blow for the WTO.
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.
By Matthias Helble. Posted March 14, 2016
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.
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