IARIW-ICRIER conference New Delhi (India)
In recent years there has been much progress in raising income and reducing poverty in many countries of South Asia, and in the measurement of these phenomena. Yet much remains to be done. The objective of this special IARIW-ICRIER conference is to advance our understanding on issues related to income, inequality, and poverty in the countries of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and the Maldives) through an examination of past experiences related to the measurement of trends in these variables and the identification of future measurement challenges.
- National Accounts: National accounts in South Asian countries have evolved over a long period of time and have undergone several revisions during this period. Today, as the region is becoming increasingly integrated with the world economy, it’s time we analysed and understood the limitations and challenges associated with the measurement and availability of statistical data.
- Productivity: One major challenge remains the region’s competitiveness and productivity, which is still lower than its neighbours and global benchmarks. The region’s comparative advantage, as we know lies in the labour intensive manufacturing. However, given the rising capital intensity of production and the slow pace of labour intensive industrialization, where will the jobs in manufacturing come from? Importantly, capital intensity has increased not only in capital intensive industries but also in labour intensive industries
- Poverty and Inequality: South Asia has experienced a long period of robust economic growth which has translated into declining poverty and impressive improvements in human development. However, still, 42% of the world’s poor live in South Asia -more than any other region of the world. The region is home to half a billion poor and its development is key to meeting global poverty and prosperity goals.
- Human Capital and Education: The poor quality of education in South Asia, as reflected in low learning levels, traps many of its young people in poverty and prevents faster economic growth and more broadly shared prosperity. Despite huge investments made by the governments in the region, there persist large differences in schooling across the countries of South Asia.
- Regional Integration and Global value Chains: Notwithstanding the recent slowdown in trade, the global economy today, looks more integrated than ever. However, the South Asian region has not been able to benefit to its potential from global integration. With intra-regional trade of less than 5% of total trade, South Asia is the least integrated region of the world today. Increasing intra regional trade would bring share economic benefits. Trading within South Asia costs more than trading outside the region. According to World Bank, it’s 20% cheaper for India to trade with Brazil than with its neighbor Pakistan. Similarly, India’s trade with Bangladesh has remained below its potential.
- Well Being, including Health, Food Security and Hunger: Food security and ensuring overall well being in the region is a serious multi-dimensional problem. It is a complicated phenomenon, which involves a number of factors, ranging from availability to access and utilization of food. Ensuring food security continues to be a major challenge for the South Asian region.
- Labour Market, Skills and Jobs: According to a recent World Bank report, more than one million young people are reaching working age every month and will need jobs. There is a huge need at this point to create more and better jobs in South Asia. Creating large number of jobs in the manufacturing sector in the face of the intensifying demographic pressures is inadequate. These jobs need to be ‘productive jobs’. India’s manufacturing sector is characterized by its dualistic structure i.e. the prevalence of a formal/organized sector which coexists with a large “unorganized sector”.
- Structural Transformation in South Asia: South Asian countries have experienced fast economic growth in thepast decade. However, growth in the region has not resulted in structural transforma-tion and increase of productive capacities. The question for policymakers in South Asian countries is how to facilitate the process of diversification of their economies. This would involve shifting towards non-traditional and more productive economic activities.
Hotels near Conference venue
Note: Participants to bear travel and accommodation expenses by themselves. ICRIER will only facilitate.