This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Founded in 1967, Asean was conceptualised to foster economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region. The data reveal that the region has managed to make rapid strides on various socio-economic parameters.
As Chart 1 shows, countries in the region now boast per capita income levels far exceeding that of India. Part of this economic success can be traced to the creation of a strong manufacturing base earlier.
As Chart 2 shows, the share of the manufacturing sector in gross domestic product (GDP) in these countries outstrips that of India’s.
This, coupled with greater integration in global trade, has helped the region boost its exports, thereby propelling growth. As Chart 3 shows, the share of exports in GDP is higher in most of these countries than in India. Even the intra-Asean trade stood at a staggering $543 billion in 2015.
On social indicators, the record is mixed. While tertiary school enrolments have increased sharply in these countries as shown in Chart 4, most of these countries have seen a worsening of their pupil-teacher ratio (Chart 5).
The female labour force participation rate across most of these countries is declining. India has the lowest female labour force participation rate among these countries, as shown in Chart 6.
And while all countries have seen a sharp decline in the mortality rate, India continues to have one of the highest in the region (Chart 7).