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How Much of South Korea's Growth Miracle Can Be Explained by Trade Policy?

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  • Michelle Connolly
  • Kei-Mu Yi

Abstract

This paper assesses the importance of trade policy reforms in South Korea, as well as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) tariff reductions, in explaining Korea's growth miracle. We develop a model of neoclassical growth and trade in which lower tariffs lead to increased gross domestic product (GDP) per worker via comparative advantage and specialization, and capital accumulation. We calibrate the model and simulate the tariff reductions that occurred between early 1962 and 1989. The model can explain 17 percent of South Korea's catch-up to the G7 countries in value-added per worker in the manufacturing sector. These gains, as well as most of the welfare gains, are driven by two key transmission channels: multistage production and imported investment goods. (JEL F13, F43, L60, O47)

Suggested Citation

  • Michelle Connolly & Kei-Mu Yi, 2015. "How Much of South Korea's Growth Miracle Can Be Explained by Trade Policy?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 188-221, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:7:y:2015:i:4:p:188-221
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.20120197
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    3. Caroline Betts & Rahul Giri & Rubina Verma, 2017. "Trade, Reform, and Structural Transformation in South Korea," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 65(4), pages 745-791, November.
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    7. Fabio Monteforte & Mathan Satchi & Jonathan R. W. Temple, 2021. "Development priorities: the relative benefits of agricultural growth," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(3), pages 1122-1152.
    8. Duol Kim, 2021. "The great divergence on the Korean peninsula (1910–2020)," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 61(3), pages 318-341, November.
    9. Betts, Caroline & Giri, Rahul & Verma, Rubina, 2017. "Trade, Reform and Structural Change in South Korea," MPRA Paper 79072, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Douglas A. Irwin, 2019. "Does Trade Reform Promote Economic Growth? A Review of Recent Evidence," Working Paper Series WP19-9, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    11. Baek, Jisun & Lee, Changkeun & Park, WooRam, 2021. "The impact of the minimum wage on the characteristics of new establishments: Evidence from South Korea," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies
    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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