fbpx Social Development and Poverty in Asia and the Pacific | Asian Development Bank

Social Development and Poverty

ADB’s central mission is working to reduce poverty in Asia and the Pacific and to ensure the benefits of economic growth and social development are equitably spread.

  • Social development inequality

    Over 200 million people in the region lived on less than $1.90 a day and around 1 billion on less than $3.20 a day in 2017. Inequality continues to grow.

  • Local governance

    Strong growth and social development have led to the region rapidly aging, with important economic and social consequences.

  • Extreme poverty in developing Asia

    The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed around 78 million people back into extreme poverty and created 168 million newly poor people, particularly in South Asia.

  • Population living on less than $1.90 a day in developing Asia

    In 2017, 203 million people lived on less than $.190 a day in developing Asia.

  • Population aged 65 and older,

    From 1950-2050, there are high population numbers that have led to rapid aging in the region.

  • Number of extremely poor
    in developing Asia
    (in millions)

    Number of extremely poor in developing Asia (COVID-19 projections)

    Large numbers of people are constantly at risk of falling back into extreme poverty during economic downturns and shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.


Poverty reduction is central to ADB’s work and is the focus of Strategy 2030's first operational priority. ADB’s focus on inclusion to ensure the benefits of growth are extended to all, has contributed to regional poverty reduction for more than half a century. ADB’s program for social protection support aims to reduce poverty and vulnerability by promoting efficient labor markets, diminishing risk, and protecting against loss of income. Through its growing health and social protection portfolio, ADB pays particular attention to the long-term care and health of the region’s rapidly aging population.

Our Impact

Results delivered in 2021 from ADB projects.

0 million

Poor and vulnerable people
with improved living standards

0 million

People benefitting from improved health/education services, or social protection

0 million

Jobs generated

Your Questions Answered

  • Why does ADB have specific social development strategies, surely as the region growths wealthier social indicators improve in tandem?


    While the tide of economic growth is generally expected to lift all boats, in real life it often leaves behind people who are poor and vulnerable. Hence, there is a need for social development strategies that specifically target economic and social integration of disadvantaged groups.

  • What are the three most cost-effective ways of reducing severe poverty?


    The three most cost-effective ways of reducing severe poverty are investments in human capital (health and education), skills and life-long learning, and social protection. This includes social assistance programs specifically targeting extreme poor and vulnerable.

  • The region is rapidly aging. How should social protection measures adapt to deal with this reality?


    Population aging is closely correlated to social and economic development, so increased longevity is to be celebrated. But the rapid increase in the numbers of older people in Asia and the Pacific means health and care systems need to adapt.