labels: economy - general
Inequality on rise despite drop in poverty in Asia: UNnews
03 July 2007

Bangkok: Even though millions in Asia have come out of extreme poverty due to economic growth, there has also been a dramatic rise in income inequality, the United Nations said in a report on Monday.

The UN report was released to mark the midway point of a 15-year global development plan - dubbed Millennium Development Goals - that targets improvements in various social and economic indicators.

The report said the greatest progress was made in East Asia, including China and South Korea, where the proportion of people living in extreme poverty fell to 9.9 per cent in 2004 from 33 per cent in 1990, in part because of rapid economic growth.

In Southeast Asia, the ratio of people living in extreme poverty dropped to 6.8 per cent in 2004 from 20.8 per cent in 1990, according to the new statistics. Extreme poverty is defined as an income the equivalent of $1 (euro0.74) a day, or less.

UN officials said Asia was on target to meet the goal of cutting extreme poverty by half by 2015.

However, they added that there was a worrying trend in rising income inequality within and among countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The share of income of the poorest 25 per cent of the population in the region declined to 4.5 per cent in 2004 from 7.3 per cent in 1990, contrasting with sub-Saharan Africa, where the share of income of the bottom 25 per cent remained the same at 3.4 per cent.

Overall success in achieving the millennium goals is also being hindered by a number of challenges such as slow progress in improving child nutrition, gender inequality and unplanned urbanization, said the report.

The report said South and Southeast Asia are still among regions with the highest percentage of children under five suffering from malnutrition.

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Inequality on rise despite drop in poverty in Asia: UN