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22555: The social impact of financial crises in East Asia - evidence from the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand

The study focuses on the social impact, as suffered in three Asian countries - Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand - following the 1997 financial crisis, seemingly a much less homogeneous, and universal impact than initially forecasted. Although the sharp devaluation of the East Asian currencies contributed, in part, to improve the economic situation of some groups, many of whom were relatively poor before the crisis, the most vulnerable households were apparently urban, dependent on fixed incomes, in sectors closely linked to the financial formal economy. Conversely, rural households, appear better protected, to the extent that the impact was cushioned by their agricultural activities. Given that poverty was concentrated in rural areas before the crisis, the " old poor " do not appear to be shouldering a disproportionate burden of the crisis. In Indonesia, data indicates that average per capita household expenditure in urban areas fell to an estimated forty percent over the past year, while the median declined by only six per cent, suggesting that it was primarily the non-poor who reduced their consumption levels. Similarly, in Thailand per capita income declined to an average five percent, but increased prices of agricultural products, mitigated adversity on rural households, despite a worsening income distribution among farmers, directly as a result of the crisis. The Philippine economy on the other hand, withstood the regional crisis better than most, with less social repercussions. In sum, the impact was heterogeneous in terms of who was affected, in terms of dimensions of changed well-being, and in the people ' s responsiveness, suggesting the need for a long-term vision on social issues, to maintain the human development achievements of the past. (With permission from the World Bank Group)

World Bank
Authors Keywords
World Bank; Asian financial crisis; poverty distribution; income distribution; agriculture sector; rural sector; agricultural productivity;
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