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Social development and protection

Giving Asia’s elderly care and dignity

Giving Asia’s elderly care and dignity
There is a seemingly hidden problem for Asia in providing economic, social and emotional security for the elderly. But drawing on the experiences of more developed economies, I think there is a silver lining behind this—an opportunity if actions are taken now to provide care and to give dignity to the elderly in Asia.

Social development and protection

BRICS countries emerging as major aid donors

Are the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, People’s Republic of China, South Africa) new aid donors? No, they are long-standing providers of foreign assistance, with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) commencing its foreign assistance programs in 1950, Russia in 1955, Brazil in 1960, and South Africa in 1968. However, the BRICS’ foreign assistance programs have grown in recent years, some dramatically. Though the BRICS countries are grouped together, the PRC is by far the largest and most significant player. In January 2011, the Financial Times reported that in 2009–2010, PRC lending to the poorest states exceeded that lent by the World Bank.

Social development and protection

How to accelerate the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals

How to accelerate the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals
On 5 April 2013, the world’s largest and most successful anti-poverty campaign reached the 1,000-day mark toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The MDGs were established in 2000, when leaders gathered at the United Nations to pledge to cut global poverty and hunger by half, fight disease, reduce child mortality rates, and expand education and economic opportunities for girls and women. This was not the first time world leaders had made lofty promises to reduce poverty, and cynics expected the MDGs to be abandoned as too ambitious. Instead, MDGs have helped set national and global priorities, mobilize action, and achieve remarkable results in poverty reduction.

Social development and protection

The emerging ACI economies: Does a rising tide lift all boats?

ACI-Thumbnail
Over the past 20 years, the emerging economies of ASEAN, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and India (ACI) have enjoyed spectacular economic growth. Together they have tripled their share of global GDP measured on a purchasing power parity basis from 11.2% in 1980 to 31.3% in 2010. By 2030, based on current consensus forecasts, their combined share could reach almost half of world output. If these forecasts are correct, by 2030, Singapore will achieve United States (US) living standards, the PRC will be on the verge of developed country status (about 60% of US levels), and relative to the US, India should be just above where the PRC is today in per capita terms.

Social development and protection

Confronting rising inequality in Asia

Gini
Developing Asia’s impressive growth continues, but faces a new challenge—inequality on the rise.1 Over the last few decades, the region has lifted people out of poverty at an unprecedented rate. But more recent experience contrasts with the “growth with equity” story that characterized the transformation of the newly industrialized economies in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 12 economies that account for more than four-fifths of the region’s population, income disparities expanded during the last two decades—despite the region’s world-beating performance in raising average incomes and reducing poverty.

Social development and protection

Toward a new capitalism

Toward A New Capitalism
Grameen Bank (Village Bank) in Bangladesh is the world’s most well-known microfinance institution. It lends $1.5 billion a year to 8.4 million people. The establishment of Grameen Bank shows that we do not always have to accept the systems we are given. Sometimes we have to think the impossible if we are really going to change the world. My first venture into such small-scale lending was not carefully thought out or based on any previous research; rather, it was an instinctive response made when I came face-to-face with gross injustice. In 1976, I was teaching economics in the port city of Chittagong in Bangladesh.

Social development and protection

Social enterprises can add a new twist to capitalism

social enterprise
The time has come to look at “social enterprises”—a form of capitalism that includes social and environmental objectives in addition to the profit motive. More than a century ago, Henry Ford asserted that “a business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” The world is now overrun by such “poor businesses.” The heedless pursuit of financial gains may produce happy management teams and shareholders, but it also results in an unhappy planet for businesses to operate in. The solution is not for these businesses to give some money to charity, or to get employees to play “builder” or “teacher” for a day as part of so-called “corporate social responsibility” initiatives.

Social development and protection

Is Japanese aid ineffective?

Is Japanese aid ineffective?
Since 2003, the Center for Global Development (CGD), a Washington-based think tank, has been ranking the aid programs of the world’s richest countries using its commitment to development index (CDI). The CGD produces an index of donor performance, which measures “aid quantity and quality”. This index tracks net aid transfer as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), while penalizing tied aid and project “proliferation” and rewarding aid to poor but non-corrupt recipients (this is referred to as aid “selectivity”).

Social development and protection

Portable Social Security for ASEAN Migrants

Distribution of migrants under social security regimes in ASEAN
The movement of workers within the ASEAN region has been on the rise over the last two decades. In Malaysia, for example, the number of foreign workers grew from less than 250,000 in 1990 to more than 2 million in 2007, about 67% of whom come from ASEAN countries. Singapore, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand have become major labor recipients, while the other ASEAN countries are labor senders (Figure 1). However, the ease of labor flows within ASEAN is not matched by the portability of migrants’ social security benefits. Some hosting countries have nationality conditions or minimum residency requirements that prevent migrants from participating in social security schemes.

Social development and protection

Time for the PRC to stop buying US Treasuries and start investing in its people

Time for the PRC to stop buying US Treasuries and start investing in its people
The PRC needs to redirect money away from increasing its external reserves and toward spending on education, health care, and affordable housing to improve the well-being of its citizens. The PRC would benefit greatly from an exchange rate regime characterized by a multiple-currency, basket-based reference rate, and a reasonably wide band. Greater exchange rate flexibility would allow more decoupling between PRC and US interest rates, helping the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) to implement monetary policy that is best for the nation. The PRC’s exchange rate interventions to sustain the export-oriented thrust of the economy are not helpful to the nation for several reasons.