The study shows how success in some Asian countries at achieving sustained growth and poverty reduction has helped their Indigenous Peoples to achieve better poverty, health, and education outcomes. A poverty gap still persists, however, between indigenous and non-indigenous populations, and while the gap is narrowing in China, it is stable or widening in most other countries.
"The contrasting results for Asia, where indigenous poverty rates have been falling, against the stagnating poverty rates earlier documented in Latin America, are striking," said Gillette Hall, co-author of the study.
The report provides both a grand overview of basic statistics across indigenous groups, and a series of in-depth country chapters. Large scale household surveys or census data were used to document poverty and other socio-economic trends (health, education) among Indigenous Peoples in the countries analyzed.
Combined with earlier case studies for five Latin American countries - "Indigenous Peoples, Poverty and Human Development in Latin America," (Hall and Patrinos 2006) - the new study offers a set of detailed results for almost 80 percent of the world’s indigenous population.
"The study's findings suggest that widespread and sustainable growth and poverty reduction play key role in eliminating the indigenous poverty gap. This means that policymakers might want to focus first on poverty reduction, which should benefit vast segments of indigenous populations. After that, targeted intervention addressing specific sources of disadvantage can be undertaken to reach those among indigenous populations who need a special lift," said Harry Anthony Patrinos, co-author of the study.
The authors of the study say that, as the global community looks for ways to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving the share of people in poverty by 2015 from its 1990 level, it cannot afford to ignore the plight of Indigenous Peoples. Although they make up only 4.4 percent of the global population, they account for about 10 percent of the poor – with nearly 80 percent of them in Asia.
Turning the situation around will require widespread and sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction, along with well designed programs that target Indigenous Peoples.