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January readings

February 1, 2013

The first month of 2013 has seen a number of interesting publications that provide a good reference or make us think about the year ahead.

The first publication is one by UNICEF’s regional office in Asia and the Pacific, together with the Economist Intelligence Unit called ‘Mapping of Social Protection Measures for children affected by HIV and AIDS in Asia and the Pacific’. It provides a systematic overview of legislation and programmes in place in nine different countries in the region that are coined as being child-sensitive and addressing HIV-specific vulnerabilities. It also provides an interesting conceptual framework that seeks to clarify the interface between child- and HIV-sensitive social protection.

The second publication is ILO’s new report Global Employment Trends 2013. Recovering from a second jobs dip. One of the graphs that caught my attention is on employment by economic class, considering the number of workers being extremely poor, moderately poor, near poor, middle class and above middle class. The middle class is on the rise – and the report points towards the hope this gives in terms of reducing inequality. But a more in-depth look at the figures, as done in the forthcoming paper by Kapsos and Bourmpoula and already discussed by Nick Mead on the Guardian’s DataBlog, suggests that the picture might not be all that rosy. Although the overall numbers of workers in the near poor class are falling, this trend comes to halt and reverses when removing China from the pool of countries under consideration. In many countries, work fails to provide people with a secure and stable income, leaving them in vulnerable and precarious situations.

Finally, a newly published CROP Policy Brief by Gabriele Koehler and others provides a frank assessment of the extent to which MDGs have been helpful in reducing poverty. In line with assessments made by others, the achievements of the MDGs relate to the awareness they have created about development issues and the way in which they have created traction around poverty reduction. The MDGs’ shortcomings relate mostly to the issues they didn’t address, including inequality, human rights and climate change, and the highly technical natures of the goals. As such, lessons for the post-MDG era include a more holistic approach that more explicitly considers the structural causes of poverty and poverty traps, and moving away from a largely technocratic approach to a more policy-oriented angle.

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