The recent years have seen a resurgence of economic growth in Asia. The region’s growth of roughly 5 percent achieved in 2003 came close to the level achieved prior to the East Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. Remarkably, too, despite this crisis that led most countries in East Asia to either sharp economic slowdown or contraction, the past decade had witnessed significant poverty reduction. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of people living on less than a dollar a day fell by about 243 million. Poverty incidence in East Asia declined from 29.46 percent to 15.6 percent, while that in South Asia fell from 41.3 percent to 31.1 percent. At these rates, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving by 2015 the proportion of people whose income falls below one dollar a day looks attainable for Asia. Indeed, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia have already reached the goal, while the rest, except Sri Lanka, are on target (Table 1). The prevalence of undernourishment between the late 1980s and late 1990s also declined from 29 to 13 percent in East and Southeast Asia, and from 38 to 23 percent in South Asia (Table 2).
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