South Asia presents an interesting
paradox, it is the second fastest growing region in the
world, and it is also home to the largest concentration of
people living in... Show More + debilitating poverty. While South Asia is
at a much more advanced stage of development, it has many
more poor people than Sub-Saharan Africa. Even as growth has
reduced poverty rates in South Asia, the poverty rates have
not fallen fast enough to reduce the total number of people
living in poverty. The number of people living on less than
$1.25 a day increased from 549 million in 1981 to 595
million in 2005. Most of the poor live in India, and their
numbers have increased from 420 in 1981 million to 455
million in 2005. Social indicators, such as human
development and gender parities, have also not kept up with
the pace of income growth. More than 250 million children
are undernourished and more than 30 million children do not
go to schools. More than one-third of adult women are
anemic. The share of female employment in total employment
is also extremely low. How can South Asia be an emerging
global economic powerhouse and yet have high poverty rates,
poor human development indicators, and huge gender
disparities? Can high-income growth co-exist with dismal
social outcomes? The answer depends on where one looks.
National averages hide vast regional disparities and are
misleading. A sub national focus sharpens and also explains
the paradox of South Asia. This is the focus of this volume.
The leading regions in South Asia have done extremely well.
They are the envy of other middle-income countries. Millions
of people in leading regions have come out of poverty.
Poverty in the leading regions can be eliminated in a
generation, provided high growth can be sustained. The story
of lagging regions is very different. Growth and poverty
reduction have turned out to be extremely challenging. The
gap between lagging and leading regions has increased.
Poverty, human misery, and gender disparities in South Asia
are largely concentrated in the lagging regions. The
distinction between lagging and leading regions is so sharp
that they seem to be anchored in two different centuries.
The author examine the well-being of the poor half billion
in South Asia from four different perspectives. First, the
author analyzes spatial disparities in income, poverty,
human development, and gender disparities within countries
and across countries in South Asia in a global setting.
Second, the author examine if poverty acts as a barrier to
growth. Poverty traps can occur if certain regions are
unable to make the required improvements for growth or
because they are not able to generate enough productivity
improvements. Third, the author explore why certain regions
are growing, while others are lagging behind. The author
focus at the sub national level on the role that economic
geography, globalization, and institutions (business
climate, education) have played in growth, and whether they
will continue to favor growth in the already-prosperous
regions. Fourth, the author asks whether policymakers should
wait for growth to lift all boats or take direct policy
actions to reduce poverty. Show Less -