The Asia Foundation | The Contested Corners of Asia: A Visual Companion

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    Development Levels


    Socioeconomic Indicators in Subnational Conflicts


    There is a common assumption that poverty and under-development are a major source of conflict, and that increased access to development in conflict areas will lead to reductions in armed conflict. However, the evidence is mixed. While subnational conflict areas typically have income levels below the national average, poverty levels vary considerably and in a few cases, poverty rates are actually lower than the national average. On several key development indicators, the subnational conflict areas show a remarkable degree of parity with national averages. For infant mortality rates, the majority of conflict areas are within 10% of (and sometimes above) the national average. Governments often spend significant public or donor resources on infrastructure development and services in subnational conflict areas. For example, in the conflict area in southern Thailand from 2003 to 2008, public expenditures on education (per capita) were 31.8% above the national average. Subnational conflict-affected populations are generally well educated. On literacy rates, subnational conflict areas are typically equivalent or better than the national average. In Aceh, the mean for years of schooling is above the national average, though Papua is slightly below. Mindanao is a major exception, with significantly lower education scores compared to the rest of the Philippines.


    Click on an indicator button or conflict name to see how subnational conflict regions compare to their national averages.

Additional Insight


Comparisons of key socio-economic indicators in subnational conflict areas across Asia were made to assess the level of development in these areas. The focus of this analysis was to determine how subnational conflict areas compare with the national average of their respective countries. For most of the subnational conflict areas in the region, provincial or state level data were used, and compared against national averages. Data is presented in terms of the ratio of the conflict area compared to the national average. The national average is a ratio of one. For the infant mortality and poverty indicators, any point above one indicates a worse rate than the national average. For the literacy and income indicators, any point above one indicates a better rate than the national average.


All indicator data is from the latest year that the data was made available in each of the countries. Not all indicator data could be acquired for all countries. In these instances, the conflict is greyed out.