Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

Timor-Leste’s pursuit of inclusive opportunity

By CRAIG SUGDEN

The article asks if Timor-Leste’s high rate of economic growth has been matched by progress in reaching the young nation’s goal of inclusive opportunity. The answer is ‘yes’. Opportunity is defined as a function of circumstances and policy, and is represented by usage of basic public services. It is concluded that opportunity generally improved for both poorer and richer groups during the first decade of formal independence, and the distribution of opportunity typically moved in favour of the poorer Timorese. A similar pattern of opportunity becoming more inclusive is found in other developing Asian and Pacific economies. Comparisons with these economies suggest that Timor-Leste is a mid-range performer. The findings provide encouragement that public policy is heading in the right direction in Timor-Leste. The findings do, however, suggest that extra effort is needed to target the needs of the poorest Timorese and to raise the quality of government expenditure.

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