Past Program

Nov 07 - Nov 12, 2011

Economic Growth and Social Protection in Asia: What lessons learned can be exchanged between Asia and the rest of the world?


Most Asian economies have managed to rebound quickly after the recent economic crisis and are expected to continue leading the global recovery. At the same time, the crisis and the social distress it created have highlighted the need to rethink previous models of economic growth and to strengthen social protection in the region. The discourse on the future of welfare systems in Asia which vary depending on political and economic factors is increasingly focusing on the need to integrate social protection into overall development strategies and to create more inclusive and sustainable models of economic development. Increasing pressure to develop domestic demand as a stimulus to growth in some Asian economies implies a need for structural reforms including, among others, increases in social insurance and services, notably health care coverage. This session will compare approaches in different Asian countries and draw lessons from European and American experiences.



How Asia will be able to deal with its diverse demographic challenges will be another crucial factor with regards to the future of Asian welfare systems. The region combines the most populous country alongside some of the smallest. While Asian countries like China and Japan show rapidly ageing societies, others, like Vietnam, still have young and fast-growing populations. These diverse demographic trends and their implications on the labor market are bound to affect the region's economic and political prospects.


The session will seek to identify ways of reforming existing social security programs with a view to making economies less vulnerable to adverse shocks, and ensuring financial and fiscal sustainability along with adequate provision. Meeting these challenges does not only pose risks but also bears large potential for innovation and transformation in Asia. This may in turn influence future welfare policy in Europe, whose much vaunted social model is now widely acknowledged to be in crisis, thanks to a combination of demographic change and fiscal constraints. However, both emerging trends in Asia and the European experience suggest that the role of social protection is crucial to the achievement of inclusive and sustainable growth. A fundamental question will be how to build synergies between social protection and other economic policies so as to ensure that societies as a whole will ultimately benefit from economic growth.


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