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Reform from below: Behavioral and institutional change in North Korea

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  • Haggard, Stephan
  • Noland, Marcus

Abstract

The state is often conceptualized as playing an enabling role for economic development, providing public goods, such as the legal protection of property rights, with the political economy of reform conceived in terms of bargaining among elites or special interest groups. We document a case which turns this perspective on its head: efficiency-enhancing institutional and behavioral changes arising, not out of a conscious, top-down program of reform, but rather as unintended (and in some respects, unwanted) by-products of state failure. Responses from a survey of North Korean refugees demonstrate that the economy marketized in response to state failure with the onset of famine in the 1990s and subsequent reforms and retrenchments appear to have had remarkably little impact on at least some significant share of the population. There is strong evidence, however, of powerful social changes, including increasing inequality, corruption, and changed attitudes about the most effective pathways to higher social status and income. These assessments appear to be remarkably uniform across demographic groups. While the survey sample marginally over-weights demographic groups with less favorable assessments of the regime, even counterfactually re-calibrating the sample to match the underlying resident population suggests widespread dissatisfaction with the North Korean regime.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 73 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
Pages: 133-152

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:73:y:2010:i:2:p:133-152

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Keywords: Failed states Transition Reform North Korea Refugees;

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References

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  1. Yoonok Chang & Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, 2008. "Exit Polls: Refugee Assessments of North Korea's Transition," Working Paper Series WP08-1, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  2. Haggard, Stephan & Noland, Marcus, 2009. "Famine in North Korea Redux?," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 384-395, September.
  3. Powell, Benjamin & Ford, Ryan & Nowrasteh, Alex, 2008. "Somalia after state collapse: Chaos or improvement?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(3-4), pages 657-670, September.
  4. Leeson, Peter T., 2007. "Better off stateless: Somalia before and after government collapse," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 689-710, December.
  5. Yoonok Chang & Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, 2008. "Migration Experiences of North Korean Refugees: Survey Evidence from China," Working Paper Series WP08-4, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  6. Alesina, Alberto & Drazen, Allan, 1991. "Why Are Stabilizations Delayed?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1170-88, December.
  7. Marcus Noland, 2000. "Avoiding the Apocalypse: The Future of the Two Koreas," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 94.
  8. Stanley Fischer & Alan Gelb, 1991. "The Process of Socialist Economic Transformation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 91-105, Fall.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, 2010. "The Winter of Their Discontent: Pyongyang Attacks the Market," Policy Briefs PB10-1, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  2. Marcus Noland & Stephan Haggard & Jennifer Lee, 2011. "Integration in the Absence of Institutions: China-North Korea Cross-Border Exchange," Working Paper Series WP11-13, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  3. Katzeff Silberstein, Benjamin, 2010. "North Korea: Fading Totalitarianism in the "Hermit Kingdom"," Working Paper Series 836, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  4. Noland, Marcus & Haggard, Stephan, 2010. "Political attitudes under repression: evidence from North Korean refugees," MPRA Paper 21713, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Noland, Marcus & Haggard, Stephan, 2009. "Repression and punishment in North Korea: survey evidence of prison camp experiences," MPRA Paper 17705, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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