East Asia and Pacific remained the world’s growth engine in 2013, accounting for over 40% of the increase in global output. In the short term, the region’s developing countries navigated the global economic crisis successfully, maintaining high growth. In the mid-term, ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth is a major challenge for the region that will require raising productivity and addressing wide-ranging vulnerabilities.
The proportion of people living in poverty in the region has steadily declined over the past 25 years. However, nearly 140 million (7%) of the region’s 2 billion people still live on less than $1.25 a day and another 300 million (15%) live on incomes between $1.25 and $2.00 a day. Countries in the region range from China, the world’s second largest economy, to the Pacific Island countries, some of the world’s smallest and most remote. Of all regions, East Asia and Pacific has the second highest number of fragile and conflict-affected states. More than 70% of the world’s natural disasters occur in this region, making it the most disaster-stricken region in the world, with Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines as a recent example of a major natural disaster.
The region faces huge infrastructure needs and rapid urbanization. As many as 130 million people have no access to power, and 600 million lack access to adequate sanitation. Rapid migration to cities is putting pressure on service delivery and leading to large urban slums, pollution, and environmental degradation.
Managing the effects of climate change and disaster risk, rapid urbanization, improving governance and institutions, and encouraging private-sector led growth to create jobs are critical to reduce poverty and build shared prosperity. Countries also need to prepare for volatility and shocks, by expanding safety nets to protect the poor and vulnerable.
Last Updated: Oct 07, 2014