Public Service Delivery and Empowerment
Edited by Anil B. Deolalikar, Shikha Jha and Pilipinas F. Quising
Developing Asia made great strides in improving its social indicators over the last quarter-century. Infant and child mortality rates are down significantly, as are maternal mortality, fertility and illiteracy rates. School enrollment at all levels has markedly increased and, even more impressively, the gender gap between male and female enrollment has narrowed appreciably. The proportion of the population with access to safe drinking water and better sanitation has grown remarkably. As a result, many countries in developing Asia have met or are on target to meet their Millennium Development Goals. An important factor—though obviously not the only one—in the region’s improved social outcomes has been an increase in the supply of public services, especially in education, health and infrastructure. This has occurred in large part because of improved fiscal situations, the result of rapid economic growth. The situation, however, is not entirely rosy, for three reasons. First, there are large variations across countries in the provision of public services. Second, there are large disparities in the provision of services within countries. And third, even though the poorest parts of developing Asia have made great progress in expanding access to public services, the quality of public services in these areas remains inadequate.
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