2004). Among the small Pacific Island countries, Papua New Guinea has the greatest gender gap.
In part, the high dropout rate in rural schools and among girls should explain the differences. Available data on the rural and urban differentials in adult literacy showed rural and urban disparity. More women than men were illiterate. Rural girls also had a higher school dropout rate. As the importance of agriculture employment decreases, changes in human capital will affect nonagricultural growth. From society's perspective, education provides a more adaptable and productive workforce, able to move with the times and adjust to technological change (Siamwalla, 2001).
In general, the region demonstrated gains in education and literacy, but with intraregional differences; it also showed improved gender parity in education, though gender gaps persist. The uneven educational achievement between genders and rural disparities present risks in transforming the large youth population into productive human capital— a workforce that could improve global competitiveness of the ESAP countries in providing trained labor.
1.3.5 Migration: Labor movements and capital gains
Asia provided half the world's international migrants and most of the international labor migrants; it became the primary source of migrants to most of the world's recipient countries. International migration in Asia in reached an unprecedented scale, diversity and significance, but inadequate data hamper understanding its extent and effect. Migration within the region was from poorer countries to more industrialized countries, seeking employment in agriculture and construction, while highly skilled labor sought employment in wealthier countries across the globe. Most international migration was nonpermanent labor. Movement involved mainly unskilled and semiskilled workers in low-paid, low-status, and dirty, dangerous and difficult (3D) jobs eschewed by local workers in the fast-growing, labor-short nations of Asia and the Middle East (Hugo, 2005). The capital gains through remittances from emigration of females were so high for some Asian governments that female labor export targets were included in government development programs. These migrants went out to improve economic returns, in spite of experiencing social and economic discrimination and personal risk. Sri Lanka had in its expatriate labor force more women than men (IOM, 2005).
Patterns of internal migration varied among countries of Asia, partly from variations in economic and cultural structures (Guest, 2003). Rural-to-urban flows still dominated migration in most Asian countries because of the high rural population. Women were increasingly involved, and their temporary emigration, economically motivated, continued to be important. The rural-to-urban migration in China was obvious. Social factors profoundly changed the system and the society (Asia-Pacific Migration Research Network, n.d.). In China, Southeast Asia and India temporary migration increased. Studies in India indicate that rural households migrated and improved their economic returns, in spite of the risks and family disruptions. Rural women also migrated with adult males or in groups of women (Deshingkar and Grimm, 2005).
Migration in the Pacific Island countries is seen as a way to improve economic and professional opportunities. "The
currently widely perceived disparities in economic development and welfare between the Pacific states, especially the smallest countries and territories of Polynesia and Micronesia, and the fringing metropolitan countries, have contributed to substantial migration but also increasing pressures for further international migration. Migration remains, in different forms, a time honored strategy from a poor area to a richer one in the search for social and economic mobility at home and abroad" (Connell, n.d.).
Migrants are key contributors to wealth in their home countries. Migrant remittances are an economic benefit that reduce the incidence and severity of poverty in origin countries. The funds from migrants directly increase recipients' income and improve household consumption. Remittances reduce household economic shock in adverse times, such as crop failure and natural disaster (World Bank, 2006). Over the last decade China, India and the Philippines have received the highest remittance flows. In small economies remittances contribute significantly to foreign exchange funds in the receiving countries (World Bank, 2006). In small Pacific Island countries remittances augment household and national economies. Remittances to rural households supply capital for investment in small-scale agriculture or off-farm enterprises. Human flight turns into financial benefit for the migrants' families and the origin countries.
1.4 Human Well-being
Human well-being in ESAP improved over the last five decades, as measured in life expectancy. But persisting gaps remain in poverty reduction, general human health, food security and nutrition. Agriculture is prominent in human well-being, which includes health, nutrition, poverty and rural livelihood. These components are also related to the development goals. Country data in the region varies greatly for indicators used to measure them. Common indicators for human health include life expectancy, infant mortality and access to safe water and sanitation.
Life expectancy for babies born in 2000-2005 is 67 years for all Asia, 75 years for the Pacific and 65 years for the world. This compares with industrial country life expectancy of 75 years and developing country of 65 years. In Bangladesh, Bhutan and India life expectancy has increased by a decade or more. The extreme is Bhutan, where life expectancy for babies born from 1980 to 1985 was 48 years, compared with 63 years for those born from 2000 to 2005 (see 1.3).
While the region gained remarkably in economic growth and trade links, poverty is still common. Poverty perpetuates a cluster of insecurities in health, food and nutrition. In many ESAP countries, although economic growth has led to substantial reduction in poverty, income increased unequally. In ESAP, between 1990 and 2001, the number of people living on less than US$1 a day dropped by nearly one-quarter of a billion. In developing countries of the region the proportion of the population living below the $1-a-day poverty line was 22%, although for least developed countries it was 38% (UNDP, 2006). In ESAP the least developed countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu. It has become necessary to distinguish among "poverty",