Sri Lanka

OECD reveals evolving social trends in Asia-Pacific


13/08/2009 – Society at a Glance – Asia/Pacific Edition shows that in terms of income inequality in Asia, China stands out with the poorest 10% sharing only 1.6% of national income, while the top 10% on the income scale own almost 35% of the country’s wealth. Similarly, the wealthiest 10% of the population hold almost a third of the country’s income in India, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia. At the bottom of the scale, the poorest 10% of the population receives just over 3% of the national income in Mongolia, Bangladesh, Viet Nam, and India. The average share of national income held by the highest 10% for 30 OECD countries is 24.2%, while the 10% poorest hold 3.1%.

Women may wield more influence in the Philippines and Mongolia than they do on average in OECD countries. Over half of Filipino legislators and managers are women, compared to only one in 10 in Korea and Japan at the low end of the scale. In 30 OECD countries, an average of 30.2% of legislators and managers are women.

Marriage statistics
show that women in the Asia-Pacific economies always marry at a younger age than men. Mean ages at marriage for women range from 18-19 years old in Bangladesh, Nepal, and India, to 26-28 years old in Korea, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong-China, closer to the average for 30 OECD countries (26 years). Mean ages at marriage for men range from 22-23 years old in Nepal, China, and India, to 30 years old in Japan and Hong Kong-China, more than the average for 30 OECD countries (28.8 years).

High rates of diabetes are not confined to high-income OECD countries. In 2006 the average prevalence of diabetes for 14 Asian countries was almost identical to that for 28 OECD countries, at respectively 6.2% and 6.4%. Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong-China had the highest cases of diabetes, with 8% or more of the population aged 20-79, while Mongolia, Indonesia, and Viet Nam reported the lowest prevalence (less than 3%).

is one of the main causes of death among adults in Asian countries. In 2006 the average incidence of tuberculosis in 14 Asian countries was 143 per 100,000 people, a level almost 10 times higher than the average for 28 OECD countries (16 per 100,000). The Philippines reported the highest number of tuberculosis cases at 287, while Australia and New Zealand had the lowest levels, less than 10 per 100,000.

Drawing from a multitude of secondary data sources (UNESCAP, ADB, APEC, World Bank, ILO, WHO, etc.), this special edition of Society at a Glance looks at social trends and policy developments in Asia-Pacific countries, using indicators similar to those in OECD’s recently published Society at a Glance 2009 (focused on OECD economies). The publication provides a variety of indicators, including measures such as employment, spending on education and health, rates of marriage and divorce, labour disputes, life satisfaction, drug use, and health outcomes.

The publication along with data files and country highlights for China, Hong Kong-China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam are available free of charge at or at

 Asia-Pacific economies covered in Society at a Glance - Asia/Pacific Edition

Source: United Nations Statistics Division (2008), Composition of macro-geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic groupings

For further information, questions or feedback, please contact:
Maxime Ladaique or David Jonathan Gonzalez-Villascan from the OECD's Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Directorate, or Ko Eunkyong from the OECD/Korea Policy Centre.