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Urban Poverty Alleviation in the Age of Globalization in Pacific Asia

Tokyo Workshop

November 31 and December 1, 1998

Co-organized by the World Bank and
the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) of Japan

Abstracts of Papers Presented

Urban Poverty Alleviation in the Age of Globalization in Pacific Asia
Yue-man Yeung

Professor Yue-man Yeung’s paper analyzes the relationship between globalization and worsening urban poverty and inequality. He describes the structure of urban poverty in East Asia and examines the effects of different welfare programs. Professor Yeung shows that globalization could alleviate poverty by accelerating economic growth. But he also indicates that it could increase income disparities. In urban areas this is of particular concern as the possibility of social unrest and political tension could be especially damaging. The recent crisis has highlighted the inadequacy of existing social safety nets and the longer term significance of initiatives in the Republic of Korea and the Philippines to contain urban poverty. Professor Yeung suggests four characteristics for an effective anti-poverty policy. First, it should target the "poorest of the poor": the elderly, the disabled, and families headed by women. Second it has to be not only pro-poor but also pro-market and pro-growth. Third, it should provide the poor an opportunity to escape from poverty traps. Fourth, it should support labor market flexibility and the urban informal sector. Such policies have been successfully executed in Malaysia—pro-poor and pro-growth—and as a result incomes of the poor grew by 5 percent per year for 22 years.

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