Key Indicators of Developing Asian and Pacific Countries 2006

Date: August 2006
Type: Books
Series: Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific
ISBN: 971-561-610-0 (print)
ISSN: 0116-3000 (print)


This 37th issue of the Key Indicators of Developing Asian and Pacific Countries features a theme chapter, “Measuring Policy Effectiveness in Health and Education.” It includes 38 statistical tables that compare indicators of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other key statistics across the 44 developing member countries (DMCs) and 44 country tables, each with 8-year data series on social, economic and financial statistics. The special chapter and statistical tables are also published on the ADB web site.

Although several DMCs have made significant progress over the past few decades, there are indications that many will not attain the health and education MDGs by 2015. Some of the biggest health and education deficiencies within countries occur among those who are at the bottom of the income distribution. In many DMCs children from poorer families are almost three times more likely to be out of school than those from rich families. The differential in child mortality rates are also of a similar magnitude. The special chapter examines the progress of the health and education MDGs with a focus on the poor because health and education improvements are not only goals in their own right but they are also critical for mainstreaming the marginalized and for ensuring that they benefit from and participate in the growth process.

The special chapter introduces a simple analytical framework which can be utilized to inform policy making aimed at improving health and education outcomes both on average in the population as well as at the margin among the poor. Measurement for management is at the core of this diagnostic framework and the chapter argues that it is imperative that health and education outcomes regularly be measured not only at the national level, but also at disaggregated levels such as among the $1-a-day and $2-a-day poor. Measurement of the extent to which health and education for the poor deviate from the average is needed to trigger corrective policy action. Such measurements are also important for monitoring purposes and for enhancing the accountability of stakeholders.

The chapter also underscores the need for careful within-country analyses of determinants of health and education attainment. In many DMCs, the problem is that government spending is not pro-poor, with the emphasis being on tertiary as opposed to primary health and education. Household income and maternal education are also critical factors that need to be addressed. Although economic growth can be important, the chapter highlights several instances where impressive gains in health and education were realized in relatively low-growth settings. Evidence (from impact analyses) suggests that carefully targeted, pro-poor, results-focused interventions such as conditional cash transfers, food fortification interventions, food-for-education programs are highly effective in improving health and education outcomes especially among the poor.