Social Inclusiveness in Asia's Emerging Middle Income Countries (MICs)


Since 1980, rapid economic growth and active macro-economic, industrial, and social policies propelled several Asian states into the ranks of the middle-income countries (MICs). However income poverty remains wide spread, and the social and environmental dimensions of vulnerability in MICs continue to pose major challenges on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For MICs to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth requires that they

  1. stimulate domestic demand and trade with neighboring countries,
  2. moving up the value chain in global production by more effectively participate in growth arising from productivity gains,
  3. develop new labor and social policies that address the needs of those living between the $1.25/day international poverty line and the upper part of the middle class , and
  4. adjust their policy and program mix to address the multidimensional nature of poverty at a time of increasing inequalities, rapid urbanization, growing environmental stress, and climate change.

Fifth ASEAN Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction

The International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC) is hosting its Fifth China-ASEAN Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction on 14-16 September in Jakarta, Indonesia. The forum, jointly organized by the PRC State Council Leading Group on Poverty Alleviation and Development (LGOP) and the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for People's Welfare, is organized on the topic, "Quality of Growth and Poverty Reduction." The event is supported by ADB, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the ASEAN Secretariat, among others. The ADB workshop is organized just before the China-ASEAN Forum and government participants from ASEAN countries are invited to also join the Forum on 14-15 September and the field visits on 16 September 2011.

Objectives and key messages

The workshop will take stock of the conceptual understandings and empirical evidence developed in recent years on inclusive growth and middle income trap. Most of the discussion on escaping the middle income trap concerns the need for industrial restructuring to sustain per capita growth. However, high per capita growth rates are insufficient to sustain inclusive growth unless growth creates decent jobs for the vast majority of population, and people are more protected against economic and other risks, and basic social and municipal services are provided for the rural poor and the growing migrant population situating in slums. This workshop will give particular attention to areas that have received less attention in economic discussions, namely

  • employment-related and social protection requirements to escape both the middle income and the poverty traps;
  • the need for more and better social investments to address challenges of meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
  • what Asia can learn from social policy in the transition of Latin America’s MICs.

In addition, country studies prepared by Asian think tank institutions will address the relevance of inclusive growth in specific MICs and learning opportunities for neighboring lower income countries. They will also discuss the impact of those countries’ bilateral development cooperation on poverty reduction and inclusive growth. The workshop will follow an interactive panel format with parallel working groups. The conference program indicates the various contributions from research networks and other experts.

The concept paper highlights the issues and directions of the workshop discussions. Specifically, the workshop will address the following questions:

  1. What are the current social dimensions of inclusive growth in Asia? What are the challenges that emerging middle income countries need to address, and what is different for poor countries ?
  2. What is the role of labor market and social policy to overcome the middle income trap?
  3. What can Asia and the Pacific learn from Latin America to escape the middle income trap?
  4. What are the specific recommendations for countries in terms of policy and finance to achieve inclusive growth?

Target participants

The Asia-wide workshop will bring together about 60 policy researchers and practitioners working at the technical level, including representatives of Asian governments, think tanks, bilateral development agencies, and inter-governmental organizations.

Government participants from ASEAN countries are  invited to attend the ensuing China-ASEAN Forum on the Quality of Growth in ASEAN +3 (14-15 September 2011).  Resource speakers include representatives of governments, think tank institutions, and regional organizations


The conference is organized by ADB, in close partnership with the International Labor Office (ILO), the International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC) and the Planning and Poverty Reduction Agency (BAPPENAS) of the Government of Indonesia. It is also supported by research work of various Asian think tank institutions, including BIDS (Bangladesh), CDRI (Cambodia), IPRCC (People’s Republic of China),  KDI (Korea), NCAER (India), CEPA (Sri Lanka), TDRI (Thailand),  CER (Uzbekistan), LPEM (Indonesia), KIMEP (Malaysia), IIDS (Nepal), PIDE (Pakistan), ISEAS (Singapore), and VASS (Viet Nam), as well as researchers from the Philippines. The workshop is financed by ADB through its poverty network project.