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The objective of the present paper is to examine the extent to which economic growth and public social expenditure in Asia and the Pacific have translated into an increasing middle class. Using international poverty lines and an absolute definition of the middle class, it is estimated that between 1999 and 2015, 1.2 billion people moved into the Asia-Pacific middle class and that the share tripled, from 13 to 39 per cent of the total population. This expansion, however, did not translate into an income-secure middle class, as almost one billion people are vulnerable and at risk of falling back into poverty. Examination at the country-level reveals that large disparities persist in the region, as most countries need to sustain economic growth and at the same time guarantee that the gains are sufficiently distributed to increase the size of the middle class.

The Asia-Pacific Sustainable Development Journal is published twice a year by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. It aims to stimulate debate and enrich research in the formulation of policy in the Asia-Pacific region towards the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In this issue:

An emerging but vulnerable middle class: a description of trends in Asia and the Pacific
Orlando Zambrano Roman

Determinants of overindebtedness among microfinance borrowers: a poverty line-based approach
Sunil Puliyakot

Fostering peaceful sustainable development in the Pacific under the 2030 agenda
Anna Naupa and Derek Brien

Water security in Central Asia and Southern Caucasus
Zulfiya Suleimenova

Paid maternity leave and child mortality in Asia and the Pacific
Grace Puliyel, Hoolda Kim and Sophie Mitra