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Document Abstract
Published: 2013

Economic class and labour market inclusion: poor and middle class workers in developing Asia and the Pacific

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Using an absolute definition of poverty and the middle class, this paper provides some important insights into the profiles of the poor, near poor and middle class workforce in developing Asia and the Pacific, with a special focus on Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Viet Nam.

Observations and recommendations:

  • in recent decades the region has achieved remarkable progress in reducing working poverty and fostering a sizeable middle class that is projected to account for one-half of the workforce (932 million) by 201.  But working poverty remains pervasive. In Asia and the Pacific, 603 million workers still lived under the US$2 poverty line in 2012
  • education levels of the workforce are positively linked to household affluence with secondaryand tertiary education still elusive for too many living under or just above the poverty line. In order tonurture and expand the middle class, strengthening access to and improving the relevance of higher education and vocational training for the poor and near poor is imperative
  • the quality and security of work – as measured by the prevalence of vulnerable and casual jobs, employment in low-productivity agriculture and sufficient working hours – are measurably associated with economic class.  Increasing infrastructure investment and facilitating sectoral shifts from agriculture to higher value-added industry and services are critical
  • women face greater challenges than men regardless of economic class. However, with higher household affluence, gender gaps in education and economic participation tend to be lower. This highlights the potential impact of middle class opportunities and values on reducing gender discrimination in society and the labour market
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P. Huynh; S. Kapsos

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