IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

North Korea: Building the Institutions to Raise Living Standards


  • Paul Hare


This paper examines the nature of the economic failure that has brought North Korea such low living standards, and considers how the economic system might be reformed to facilitate a return to overall growth in both aggregate income (GDP) and general living standards. The focus is on institutional aspects of the needed reforms, emphasising the importance of building on existing institutions and practices wherever possible, rather than starting from scratch from a tabula rasa . Food supplies, the large military establishment, and the astonishing failure to adapt to the trade shock resulting from the collapse of the USSR are reviewed in detail, and potential lessons are explored from EU enlargement, German reunification and the very messy Russian transition. In proposing reforms, the paper is pragmatic and flexible, prioritising measures to improve food supplies while also emphasising a wide range of local, experimental and decentralised reforms that surely have greater chance of success than a top-down approach.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Hare, 2012. "North Korea: Building the Institutions to Raise Living Standards," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(3), pages 487-509, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:intecj:v:26:y:2012:i:3:p:487-509 DOI: 10.1080/10168737.2012.707876

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Funke, Michael & Strulik, Holger, 2005. "Growth and convergence in a two-region model: The hypothetical case of Korean unification," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 255-279, April.
    2. Haggard, Stephan & Noland, Marcus, 2009. "Famine in North Korea Redux?," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 384-395, September.
    3. Siebert, Horst, 1991. "German unification: the economics of transition," Kiel Working Papers 468, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    4. Marcus Noland, 2000. "Avoiding the Apocalypse: The Future of the Two Koreas," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 94.
    5. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 2002. "Germany's Economic Unification: An Assessment after Ten Years," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 113-128, February.
    6. repec:hrv:faseco:33078568 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Marcus Noland & Sherman Robinson & Ligang Liu, 1999. "The economics of korean unification," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(3), pages 255-299.
    8. Andrei Shleifer & Daniel Treisman, 2005. "A Normal Country: Russia After Communism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 151-174, Winter.
    9. Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, 2010. "The Winter of Their Discontent: Pyongyang Attacks the Market," Policy Briefs PB10-1, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:intecj:v:26:y:2012:i:3:p:487-509. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.