Economic growth has been substantial over the past decade, and while it has contributed to an overall reduction in absolute poverty, wide income disparities persist in Asia and the Pacific. At present social protection systems inAsia and the Pacific remain underdeveloped: at 7% of GDP, public social spending in Asia and the Pacific is low. Moreover, most social spending is through social insurance schemes that cover (former) workers with a formal employment contract who generally belong to middle and higher-income groups. The share of informal employment in total employment varies across countries, but almost 70% of workers in the Asia/Pacific region are in informal employment, often the self-employed without employees (own-account workers) and/or contributory family workers, who often work long hours for little money and without or only limited access to social protection. Changes in automation and the rise of theâ€œplatform economyâ€ are widely recognised as posing challenges to labour markets across the OECD as well as Asia and the Pacific. However, developments in technology and automation also provide new opportunities for the extension of social protection as they can help overcome some of the administrative barriers to the receipt of benefit, payment of taxes and social security contributions. Advancesintechnology haveatleast the potential to contribute to a reduction in informality and the improvement of benefit delivery. More should be done to support the poor, which requires scaling up investment in social-support systems and better targeting of supports. This chapter includes a selection of reform efforts across the region to increase coverage social protection. But given the low level of spending and taxation overall, widening the tax base and greater progressivity in taxation and financing of social insurance schemes would be important contributory factors to a greater effectiveness of national policies to combat poverty.
|Publication status||Published - 2019|