Southeast Asia has been reducing its poverty level as a whole for the past decade. However, the rise of automation has now put the population back at risk. One of the largest industries in terms of employment in Southeast Asia is the production and manufacturing industry. The most common type of work found in this region is in small factories. These jobs are some of the most vulnerable to the effects of automation in Southeast Asia.

Affected Industries

Automation is the process by which labor or a job that is performed by a human switches to being done by a machine. In many cases, a robot is able to work faster and more efficiently than a person with the added bonus of not having a salary and never needing time off. Thus, the prospect of a workforce full of machines is very appealing to those looking to lower their labor costs.

Automation in Southeast Asia stands to put a large number of laborers out of work. The International Labor Organization reported that 73% of Thailand’s manufacturing workforce are at high risk of having their jobs automated. On a whole, the ASEAN-5 (Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) faces a 56% risk for employment being automated in the next two decades. The majority of workers affected will be those with both lower wages and lower levels of education. These are the types of jobs easiest to automate, which renders these workers as the most severely impacted demographic.

Further, the types of jobs created through automation, like machine operation and maintenance, require skills the lesser educated workers replaced by automation lack. In Vietnam, those with only a primary school education are three times more likely to have their job automated than someone with a secondary degree.

The Transition

These countries face an interesting problem. Through automation, they stand to gain much in the way of foreign investments and business. Southeast Asia has become a hub of global production, which provides many economic benefits. On the other hand, automation puts the lives of the working-class people in these countries in serious danger. Several countries in Southeast Asia have proposed new ideas to try and navigate through this transition.

The Indonesian Minister of Finance has proposed the implementation of a universal basic income. This has the possibility of alleviating the stress caused by job loss. The Government of Thailand has approved a tax incentive to boost automation within the country. The proposition aims to bring in foreign investors that would train Thai workers and create employment opportunities.


A smooth transition to automation will be crucial in keeping much of the population of Southeast Asia above the poverty line. It is fundamental to support workers in the age of automation in Southeast Asia. Most importantly, they need access to higher levels of education. Hopefully this issue will encourage these governments to provide more opportunities and training to their citizens. People can continue to work in meaningful ways in the age of automation through adequate aid.

Jackson Bramhall
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Monaco

What are the causes of poverty in Monaco? This is a difficult question to answer. As of 2009, according to the World Health Organization, Monaco does not have any percentage of its population living below the national or international poverty line. So, there are essentially no causes of poverty in Monaco.

Monaco, a microstate located on France‘s southern coast, has a small population of 38,000 people. In 2015, Monaco had the highest per capita GDP in the world. Thus, it is not surprising that Monaco is home to some of the world’s wealthiest people and many popular, expensive tourist attractions such as Monte Carlo.

Furthermore, the cost of living is extremely high in Monaco; property costs $9,000 per square inch, which is approximately 50% more expensive than the average apartment in New York City. Monaco is roughly the size of Central Park, and so it is fairly difficult for a large number of people of low socioeconomic status to find a place to live.

In addition, the working class of Monaco is hardly even comparable to the working class of many developed countries like the United States. Workers are granted competitive, tax-free salaries and they do not suffer the same hardships and difficulties that part-time, minimum wage workers in the United States face.

Health outcomes are oftentimes linked to poverty rates and may provide meaningful insight into a country’s poverty rate. Underdeveloped countries, which experience higher incidence rates of communicable diseases, have higher poverty rates than developed countries like Monaco, which experience high incidence rates of non-communicable diseases. Infectious, communicable diseases that are oftentimes rampant among groups of low socioeconomic status do not have high incidence rates in Monaco.

For instance, diarrhea, which is a common indicator of infectious disease rates, was reported to have an incidence rate of 0.3 in 2009, which is comparable to the world’s lowest incidence rate of diarrhea of 0.2 at that time. Cardiovascular disease is an example of a non-communicable disease that has a fairly high incidence rate in developed countries. In Monaco, cardiovascular disease had an incidence rate of 2.1 in 2009, compared to the world’s lowest incidence rate of cardiovascular disease, 1.4, at that time.

Monaco’s health outcomes are comparable to those of developed countries rather than underdeveloped countries. These facts, combined with the protections for worker salaries and the many wealthy people that live there, mean that poverty is fortunately not an issue for the people of Monaco.

Emily Santora

Photo: Flickr