The Key to the Asian Miracle
Making Shared Growth Credible
“Easily the most informed and comprehensive analysis to date on how and why East Asian countries have achieved sustained high economic growth rates, [this book] substantially advances our understanding of the key interactions between the governors and governed in the development process. Students and practitioners alike will be referring to Campos and Root’s series of excellent case studies for years to come.” Richard L. Wilson, The Asia Foundation
Eight countries in East Asia–Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia–have become known as the “East Asian miracle” because of their economies’ dramatic growth. In these eight countries real per capita GDP rose twice as fast as in any other regional grouping between 1965 and 1990. Even more impressive is their simultaneous significant reduction in poverty and income inequality. Their success is frequently attributed to economic policies, but the authors of this book argue that those economic policies would not have worked unless the leaders of the countries made them credible to their business communities and citizens.
Jose Edgardo Campos and Hilton Root challenge the popular belief that East Asia’s high performers grew rapidly because they were ruled by authoritarian leaders. They show that these leaders had to collaborate with various sectors of their population to create an environment that was conducive to sustained growth. This required them to persuade the business community that their investments would not be expropriated and to convince the broader population that their short-term sacrifices would be rewarded in the future. Many of the countries achieved business cooperation by creating consultative groups, which the authors call deliberation councils, to enhance accountability and stability. They also obtained popular support through a variety of wealth-sharing measures such as land reform, worker cooperatives, and wider access to education.
Finally, to inhibit favoritism and corruption that would benefit narrow interest groups at the expense of broad-based development, these countries’ leaders constructed a competent bureaucracy that balanced autonomy with accountability to serve all interests, including the poor.
This important book provides useful lessons about how developing and newly industrialized countries can build institutions to implement growth-promoting policies.