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International Monetary Fund


The spectacular growth of many economies in East Asia over the past 30years has impressed the economics profession, which often refers to thesuccess of the so-called Four Tigers of the region (Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan Province of China) as "miraculous." This papercritically reviews the reasons alleged for this extraordinary growth.It weighs arguments in the debate over factor accumulation versustechnical progress, the role of public policy, the contribution ofinvestments and exports, and the influence of initial conditions onsubsequent growth.

International Monetary Fund


The spectacular growth of many economies in East Asia over the past 30 years has amazed the economics profession and has evoked a torrent of books and articles attempting to explain the phenomenon. Articles on why the most successful economies of the region Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan Province of China have grown, to say the least, robustly invariably refer to the phenomenon as “miraculous.” When practitioners of the Dismal Science have recourse to a Higher Power, the reader knows that he is in trouble. Confusion is compounded when he discovers that ideological debate has multiplied even further the analyses of this phenomenon. Rather than swelling the torrent of interpretations, this paper sets for itself the modest agenda of reviewing the weightiest arguments in the literature that attempt to identify the reasons for the extraordinary economic growth in East Asia and trying to decide which arguments make sense. The exercise has value because finding the right explanation might suggest how to replicate this success elsewhere and, as a bonus, might also satisfy the reader’s urge to solve an engaging intellectual puzzle. It is best if we start with the facts.

Johannes Eugster, Giang Ho, Ms. Florence Jaumotte, and Mr. Roberto Piazza

More rapid diffusion of know-how is an important benefit of globalization

Philippe Aghion, Reda Cherif, and Fuad Hasanov
We show empirical evidence that there may not be a tradeoff between market income inequality and high sustained growth, which is key for poverty alleviation. We argue that the economies that achieved high sustained growth and low market income inequality are characterized by dynamism—a drive toward sophisticated export industries, innovation, and creative destruction and a high level of competition. What a country produces and how much it competes domestically and internationally are important for achieving fair and inclusive markets. We explore policy options to steer industrial and market structures toward providing growth opportunities for both workers and firms.
Mr. Michael Sarel
This paper examines the different arguments raised by the studies that addressed the East Asian growth experience. The original arguments presented in this paper are all on the negative side, highlighting problems associated with some of the possible explanations for the East Asian miracle. The paper concentrates mainly on four dimensions of the debate about the East Asian growth experience: (i) The nature of economic growth intensive or extensive?; (ii) The role of public policy and of selective interventions; (iii) The role of high investment rates and a strong export orientation as possible engines of growth; and (iv) The importance of the initial conditions and their relevance for policy.
Mr. Luis Catão and Mr. Robin Brooks
This paper revisits the relative importance of global versus country-specific factors underlying stock returns. It constructs a new firm level data set covering emerging and developed markets and estimates a simple factor model, which breaks down stock returns into a global business cycle factor, global industry factors, country-specific factors and firm-level effects. The results indicate that the share of variation in stock returns explained by global industry factors has grown sharply since the mid-1990s, at the expense of country-specific factors. Foremost among the global factors is a “new economy” factor, which has become a key determinant of global stock returns.
Yangkyoon Byeon, Kwanghae Choi, Heenam Choi, and Jun I. Kim
Korea is facing mounting economic challenges. Productivity growth has been on a trend decline amid demographic headwinds, while the societal demand for inclusive growth has been on a steep rise. Furthermore, the government-led unbalanced growth model—which served Korea well in the past—has become less effective and politically palatable in recent years. As such, Korea needs a major paradigm shift to embark on a new sustainable and inclusive growth path. But policy response has been modest at best with no major reforms being implemented over the past two decades. We propose a paradigm shift in Korea’s economic framework, involving a simultaneous big push for greater economic freedom and stronger social protection within the parameters set by long-run fiscal sustainability. We also provide a detailed account of structural reforms to boost economic freedom and sustainable funding plans for stronger social protection.
Yong-jin Kim and Mr. Se-Jik Kim
This paper presents a multisector growth model where education enhances general human capital, which is essential for increasing or maintaining the mobility of workers across industries. The paper shows that education, combined with international trade, can affect growth positively in the long run by raising workers’ ability to adapt and move easily to industries with the greatest productivity in each period. Depending on the initial ratio of general-to-specific human capital stock, multiple equilibrium growth paths can exist, including a poverty trap. If the ratio is not substantially low, trade liberalization can allow an economy in a poverty trap to transform into one with continuous education and higher output growth.
Reda Cherif and Fuad Hasanov
We provide an overview of the theories and empricial evidence on the complex relationship among innovation, competition, and inclusive growth. Competition and innovation-led growth are critical to drive productivity gains and support broad-based growth. However, new technologies and trends in market concentration are stifling future innovation while contributing to the marked increase in inequality. Beyond consumer welfare in a narrow market, competition policy should adapt to this new reality by considering the spillover and dynamic effects of market power, especially on firm entry, innovation, and inequality. Innovation policies should tackle not only government failures but also market failures.
Mr. Ali J Al-Sadiq
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has helped accelerate the digitization of public services. The lockdown initiated by most governments to curb the spread of the coronavirus forced most public agencies to switch to online platforms to continue providing information and services to the public. It is widely recognized that information diffusion and communication technology play a large role in improving the quality of public services in terms of time, cost, and interface with the public, business, and other agencies. Potentially, e-government could enhance a country’s locational advantages and attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows. This hypothesis is tested empirically using an unbalanced panel data analysis for 178 host countries over the period 2003-2018. The results suggest that e-government stimulates the inflow of FDI.