Table of Contents

  • This is the third edition of Society at a Glance Asia/Pacific, the OECD’s overview of social indicators for the Asia/Pacific region. The report addresses the growing demand for quantitative evidence on social well-being and its trends across 35 economies in the region. It updates many indicators presented in the two previous editions and introduces several new ones.

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  • Gender equality is not just about economic empowerment. It is a moral imperative, it is about fairness and equity, and includes many political, social and cultural dimensions. With a special chapter on gender issues this volume of Society at a Glance Asia/Pacific illustrates the progress that many economies in the Asia/Pacific region have made towards gender equality in education and shows that girls outperform boys in some areas of education. But these gains have not yet fully spilled over to the labour market: women are most likely to work under vulnerable employment conditions, earn less than men, are less likely to make it to the top of the career ladder, and continue to bear the brunt of unpaid housework.

  • The Society at a Glance Asia/Pacific series provides an example of how OECD frameworks may be used to highlight and illustrate societal progress and social policy issues in the Asia/Pacific region. The purpose of Society at a Glance Asia/Pacific and Society at Glance series more generallyA related OECD publication, How’s Life – Measuring Well-being (OECD, 2013), presents a large set of well-being indicators, with an aim to give an accurate picture of societal well-being and progress. Compared with Society at a Glance, it uses a broader set of outcome measures but excludes indicators of policy responses. is to provide information on two questions:

  • The case for gender equality is founded in both human rights and economic arguments. As such, closing gender gaps must be a central part of any strategy to create more sustainable and inclusive economies and societies. In order to identify barriers to greater gender equality and build on its expertise in these areas, the OECD launched its Gender Initiative to help governments promote gender equality in education, employment and entrepreneurship (the three Es – see ). Greater education participation, from an early age onwards, provides better economic opportunities for women by raising the overall level of human capital and labour productivity. Mobilising hitherto underutilised labour supply and ensuring higher female employment will widen the base of taxpayers and contributors to social protection systems which will come under increasing pressure due to population ageing. More gender diversity will help promote innovation and competitiveness in business. Greater economic empowerment of women and greater gender equality in leadership are key components of the OECD’s wider gender initiative to develop policies for stronger, better and fairer growth (OECD, 2011a and 2012a).

  • The economic crisis which started in 2007/08 has intensified global interest in social policy and the ability of welfare systems to provide social protection. During the crisis, social protection systems in many countries initially played an important role as automatic stabilisers to cushion the impact of the economic downturn, but subsequently social protection measures, especially income supports to the working-age population have been affected by efforts to cut public spending in the context of fiscal consolidation measures.