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East Asia and the Pacific

World Development Report 2007 - Regional Highlights

Huge benefits reaped from investment in working age population but challenges remain

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Huge benefits reaped from growth of (and investment in) working age population…

  • The number of young people aged 12-24 in the East Asia and Pacific region (dominated by China) peaked at roughly 450 million, and is set to decline. However, a few countries are peaking now (Indonesia, Vietnam); a few will peak between 2010 and 2030 (Malaysia and the Philippines); and Cambodia will not peak in the foreseeable future.
  • Sound investments in primary education alone have accounted for approximately one-third of the growth rate of the East Asian boom economies between 1960 and 1985 (World Bank, 1993). 
  • Export orientation and foreign direct investment have also been cited as one of the sources of growth that explain the “East Asian miracle”.
Bloom and Canning (2004) attribute over 40 percent of the higher growth in East Asia over Latin America from 1965 to 1990 to the faster growth of its working age population and better policies for trade and human capital development.
…but challenges remain
  • Some challenges such as secondary school capacity, future access to jobs, rights of migrants from rural to urban areas, and health issues remain only partially addressed. Governments will need to continue investing in education, create more jobs, and disseminate health-related information more widely, the report says.
  • Dependency rates in China are expected to start increasing as early as 2010 due to rapid ageing of the population.
  • Even in high-performing countries, there is a concern about equity, especially regarding young people’s access to basic services – those from ethnic groups, recent migrants and other vulnerable groups.

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Organge arrowGraph: Trends in developing world's population vary significantly across regions
Organge arrow

More graphs from the report

Related Websites

Organge arrowPrevious World Development Reports
Organge arrowWorld Bank's East Asia & Pacific website
Organge arrowEast Asia & Pacific Youth website
Organge arrowWorld Bank Youth website (Youthink!)
Organge arrowYouth Development and Peace Network
Organge arrowYouth at the United Nations


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