Guest editorial

Esfandiar Maasoumi (Department of Economics, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA)
Almas Heshmati (Department of Economics, Sogang University, Seoul, Korea)
Guanghua Wan (Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines.)

Journal of Economic Studies

ISSN: 0144-3585

Article publication date: 12 January 2015



Maasoumi, E., Heshmati, A. and Wan, G. (2015), "Guest editorial", Journal of Economic Studies, Vol. 42 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Guest editorial

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Journal of Economic Studies, Volume 42, Issue 1.

Special issue (section) on poverty reduction in Asia: drivers, best practices and policy initiatives

The major policy challenges facing developing Asia are how to sustain the rapid economic growth that reduces multidimensional poverty, and is both socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Population growth, rapid urbanization, provision of services, the need to reverse declined economic growth after the 2008 global financial crisis, and responding to climate change are among other challenges facing Asia. Against this background, Asian Development Bank, in collaboration with Sogang University and Emory University, organized a workshop on “Poverty Reduction in Asia: Drivers, Best Practices and Policy Initiatives” which was held at Sogang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea, August 23-24, 2013.

This Special Issue is based on a selection of papers submitted to the workshop. Theoretical, methodological and empirical research and policy-oriented papers were sought, with findings, conclusions and policy recommendations based on solid evidence and appropriate methods. The goal was to advance the development of new tools and measurement of multidimensional poverty, and poverty reduction policy analysis. The papers could focus on Asia as a whole, a group of countries, or individual economies. A selection of workshop papers were submitted to Journal of Economic Studies (JES) for publication. Following the review process and revisions, three papers were accepted for publication. They focus on weights and substitution degrees in well-being in China; the effects of poor family background on current labor market outcomes in South Korea; and inequality in health and pro-poor development in Southeast Asia. A brief summary of individual chapters is provided below.

The first study by Esfandiar Maasoumi and Tong Xu combines multidimensional welfare analysis and entropy metrics to construct multidimensional indices of well-being based on Chinese Household Income Project Survey (CHIPS) data. A two-step procedure is used to measure multivariate inequality for three social groups in China: urban residents, migrants, and rural residents. The differences in relative weights and substitution degree for the three groups are compared and linked to some institutional factors. The authors find that incorporating substitution among attributes, and taking into consideration group heterogeneity are very important in multidimensional analysis of well-being.

The second study by Sungwook Cho and Almas Heshmati examines the correlation between childhood poverty and its influence on adulthood wage distribution. With data from the Korean Labor Income Panel Study (KLIPS), the quantile regression technique and a decomposition method are conducted to identify and decompose the wage gap between low and middle class income groups. The results show that those who had been less fortunate during their childhood were also less likely to have the opportunity to gain labor market favored characteristics. This leads to a discount of about 15 percent in the wage, for those with underprivileged backgrounds during childhood compared to those with a middle class background. This disadvantage is observed heterogeneously, with a greater effect at the lower quantiles compared to the higher quantiles of the current wage distribution.

The third study by Jacques Silber reviews the recent literature on the measurement of inequality in attainments and shortfalls when the variables under study have bounds. It is noted that infant and child mortality, child stunting and underweight, decreased over time in Southeast Asia but there was also a change in the inequality of the distribution of these variables. Silber implements the so-called Shapley decomposition to determine the respective impacts of the decrease in the average value of these variables and of the change in the inequality of their distribution on the reduction observed for each of these variables in the lowest wealth quintile. This breakdown is then applied to data covering various Southeast Asian countries during the past 25 years. The results show that generally the overall decline in infant and child mortality as well as in child stunting and underweight played the main role.

This special section is authored by technical experts in the field who employ diverse up-to-date data and methods to provide empirical results based on representative household surveys, covering several countries in Asia and the Pacific. It contains a wealth of empirical evidence and sound recommendations to policy makers and researchers to design and implement effective policies and strategies to prevent and to reduce poverty. The section is a useful resource to policy makers and researchers involved in fighting poverty. It appeals to a broader audience interested in economic development, resources, policies and economic welfare and inclusive growth.

The guest coeditors are grateful to a host of dedicated authors and rigorous referees who helped us in assessing the submitted papers. Many were presenters at the two-day workshop at Sogang University. Several other papers are appearing in a Special Issue of another journal and in a book on the subject coedited by us. We thank the Editor and publisher for guidance and the opportunity to assess these papers for the JES.

Professor Esfandiar Maasoumi

Department of Economics, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Professor Almas Heshmati

Department of Economics, Sogang University, Seoul, Korea, and

Dr Guanghua Wan

Asian Development Bank, Madaluyoug, Philippines

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