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Politics and Economic Reform in Malaysia

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  • Bryan K. Ritchie

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    Abstract

    Malaysia’s admirable economic growth is often attributed to liberal, open economic policies. Aggregate measures of openness, however, often veil the way coalitional politics drove illiberal government intervention in the economy to correct ethnically based economic inequality, create national heavy industries, and favor politically well-connected entrepreneurs. A more nuanced analysis reveals a complex mix of liberal and illiberal economic policies designed to balance competing coalitional interests. These policies created a “dual economy” that successfully replaced growing political and social instability with rapid economic growth sufficient to support redistributive politics. Yet this same dual economy also slowed further reform and retarded technological development, leaving Malaysia mired in mediocrity: neither price competitive with China nor technologically competitive with Singapore, the East Asian NICs, or the OECD countries.

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    File URL: http://www.wdi.umich.edu/files/Publications/WorkingPapers/wp655.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan in its series William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series with number 2004-655.

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    Length: 44 pages
    Date of creation: 01 Feb 2004
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2004-655

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    Keywords: Malaysia; Economic Reform; Technological Upgrading; Coalitions; Dualism;

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    1. Paul M. Romer, 1994. "The Origins of Endogenous Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 3-22, Winter.
    2. Jeffrey Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Progress of Global Integration," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1733, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    3. Bryan K. Ritchie, 2002. "Foreign Direct Investment and Intellectual Capital Formation in Southeast Asia," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 194, OECD Publishing.
    4. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Understanding Economic Policy Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 9-41, March.
    5. Kaldor, Nicholas, 1972. "The Irrelevance of Equilibrium Economics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(328), pages 1237-55, December.
    6. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
    7. Rasiah, Rajah, 1994. "Flexible Production Systems and Local Machine-Tool Subcontracting: Electronics Components Transnationals in Malaysia," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(3), pages 279-98, June.
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    Cited by:
    1. Bethuel Kinyanjui Kinuthia, 2009. "Industrialization in Malaysia: Changing role of Government and Foreign Firms," DEGIT Conference Papers c014_049, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.

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