The Asian ‘Poverty Miracle’

The Asian ‘Poverty Miracle’

Impressive Accomplishments or Incomplete Achievements?

ADBI series on Asian Economic Integration and Cooperation

Edited by Jacques Silber and Guanghua Wan

Following rapid economic growth in recent decades, Asia and the Pacific experienced an impressive reduction in extreme poverty, but this drop was not uniform and achievements are still incomplete. Vulnerability to natural disasters, the increasing impact of climate change and economic crises should all be taken into account. There is also a need to consider the multidimensional nature of poverty and the non-uniformity of the decrease across different ethnic groups. This book explores the Asian ‘poverty miracle’ and argues for the development and use of an Asia-specific poverty line.

Chapter 1: An Asian poverty line? Issues and options

Stephan Klasen

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, asian economics, development studies, asian development, development economics, economics and finance, asian economics, development economics


Given Asia’s record of rapid economic growth and the conceptual and empirical problems of the current international income poverty line (‘dollar-a-day’), this chapter discusses whether there is merit in developing an Asia-specific poverty line that addresses some of the shortcomings of the dollar-a-day line and additionally considers Asia’s particular economic situation. We consider various ways of creating an Asia-specific poverty line, including an Asia-specific international income poverty line (using purchasing-power parity, PPP, adjusted dollars) that is derived from Asian national poverty lines. We argue that there can be some merit in developing an Asian poverty line and that, in the case of income poverty, it would be best to ground such an Asia-specific poverty line in a consistent method of generating national poverty lines using national currencies rather than generating a PPP-adjusted poverty line in international dollars that is specific for Asia. It is important that such a poverty line also considers relative poverty in its assessment to reflect the rising aspirations of Asian societies, in line with suggestions made by Chen and Ravallion (2013) on weakly relative poverty lines. In terms of multidimensional poverty lines, there is also some merit in developing an Asia-specific multidimensional poverty index that takes into account the specific living conditions of Asian societies.