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Chapter 17: Global economic downturn and social protection in East Asia: coping with crisis and reducing poverty
The global economic crisis that was triggered by the collapse of financial institutes in the USA and Europe in 2008–09 poses great risks to the livelihood of vulnerable people in the world. While people in the North are faced with tough economic prospects, citizens in many developing countries are exposed to high economic and social risks. In middle income countries firms tightened their business activities, which led to workers being laid off. Jobs have been lost not only in the manufacturing and construction sectors, but also in tourism and services. Regarding the poor in the least developed countries (LDCs) including land-locked and small island countries, their livelihood had already worsened following the rise in food and oil prices in 2007 before the global economic crisis took place. The global economic crisis poses a further serious threat that could derail the progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals in the LDCs. In relation to East Asia, it is the second crisis in just over ten years, following the East Asian economic crisis in 1997–98. Despite hefty social and economic costs, the East Asian countries hit by the previous crisis, such as Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and to a lesser extent Hong Kong and Singapore, came back with strong economic recovery and better social protection systems (Kwon et al., 2009). Nevertheless, the current economic crisis is different in nature from the previous one in many ways.
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