Essays in Honor of Keith B. Griffin
Edited by James K. Boyce, Stephen Cullenberg, Prasanta K. Pattanaik and Robert Pollin
Chapter 16: Economic Policies and Poverty Reduction in Asia and the Pacific: Alternatives to Neoliberalism
16. Economic policies and poverty reduction in Asia and the Pacific: alternatives to neoliberalism Terry McKinley Introduction Since the mid-1990s, poverty reduction has emerged as the overriding objective of the international development community. All policies are now evaluated from a poverty reduction perspective as a well as a growth perspective. This is now as true of economic policies as social policies. Consistent with this approach, the Bretton Woods Institutions require lowincome developing countries to formulate Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) that, among other objectives, would foster ‘pro-poor growth’. This is a variant of the 1970s approach of ‘growth with equity’, but with a sharper focus on those in a society who are most deprived. However the neoliberal, ‘equityblind’ economic policies of earlier structural adjustment programmes have been imported into PRSPs with little change, except for the addition of an antipoverty rhetorical flourish. These policies are, regrettably, neither pro-poor nor even pro-growth. Consequently PRSPs have been obliged to deploy a broad array of targeted social policies to mitigate the adverse impact of inequality-intensifying, growthimpeding economic policies. Had growth been more ‘pro-poor’, namely, both more rapid and more equitable in its impact, the extensive PRSP panoply of social policies would not be necessary. If ‘pro-poor growth’ should be a primary objective of public policy, how is it defined? The concept incorporates both equity and growth components.1 UNDP takes the position that if countries are to reach the target of halving extreme income poverty by 2015 (the primary poverty goal of the Millennium...
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