Statsguru: How India fares among Asian peers in key economic indicators

In IMF’s three estimates for the year, India’s estimate came down from a growth of 1.9 per cent to a contraction of 10.3 per cent
THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) released its October edition of the World Economic Outlook last week, which put Bangladesh under the spotlight in our part of the world. It showed that Bangladesh has now come neck and neck with India on per capita income. But let us look at the IMF’s analysis on India’s main Asian peers along with some socio-economic indicators.

Apart from the fact that India’s gross domestic product is going to suffer the biggest fall among its peers, it is important to note that the downward revision of the growth estimate was also the sharpest. In IMF’s three estimates for the year, India’s estimate came down from a growth of 1.9 per cent to a contraction of 10.3 per cent, shows chart 1.

However, India’s recovery would also be sharper compared to Asian peers, shows chart 2. According to the IMF, China, Bangladesh and Vietnam would not suffer a GDP contraction in 2020.

As a result, Bangladesh will surpass India in terms of per capita income in nominal dollar terms in 2020. But by factoring in the purchasing power parity, India’s income level is still above its Eastern peer, chart 3 reveals. 

But per capita GDP is an indicator that doesn’t reveal the nuances of socioeconomic development. The next three charts show India’s performance against not just Bangladesh, but China and Vietnam as well.

The trends are intriguing. While India does best in terms of taking its children to Class 10, the share of working-age women who have completed some secondary education is the worst among the four countries, possibly because advances in primary education are more recent. India clearly fared better than Bangladesh here, shows chart 4.

But things begin to worsen once we focus on health. Though India’s performance is improving, it falls behind its peers in almost all aspects. Chart 5 shows India’s indicators are poorer than Bangladesh despite higher spending.

Further, when it comes to indicators such as employment, China and Vietnam once again fare better. A larger proportion of the workforce is skilled in Bangladesh, as is the degree to which women participate in economic activity, shows chart 6. This suggests how balanced participation of men and women in jobs improves income levels.


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