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Explaining Miracles: Growth Regressions Meet the Gang of Four

In: Growth Theories in Light of the East Asian Experience, NBER-EASE Volume 4

  • William Easterly

The authorexamines a range of cross-sectional variation in performance and policies for evidence on what distinguishes successes from failures. At about 6 percent, the growth rate of the Four Tigers - Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan (China) - are among the largest outliners in any study of growth. This is not surprising, says the author. The Four Tigers are Tigers because their growth rate was high. The Four generally have large positive residuals in growth regressions, but the author argues that this is not surprising for observations that were known in advance to be at the top of the sample. But growth regressions and, more generally, quantitative measures of"policies"are not very successful at picking out the Gang of Four as"most likely to succeed."Most observers before the"miracle"were pessimistic about East Asia. The Four are not nearly as superlative in policies and other country characteristics as they are in per capita growth rates. Large positive residuals such as those associated with the Four's high performance have historically been transitory. The stratospheric trajectory of the Four should be heading back toward earth soon, says the author. What may be unusual about the Four's success is that they were all in one region. At least casually, the Asian successes look a lot like growth radiating from poles, with Japan followed by the Gang of Four, followed by China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The great success of the Gang of Four does not imply a blanket endorsement of all their policies - they may have made mistakes that were more than offset by other good policies and, probably at least in part, by good luck. It is disturbing how large and transitory the unexplained element is in economic success. Perhaps the best way to think about good policies is that they make success likely sooner or later. When all is said and done, the story of the East Asian successes is consistent with the prosaic fun

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This chapter was published in:
  • Takatoshi Ito & Anne O. Krueger, 1995. "Growth Theories in Light of the East Asian Experience, NBER-EASE Volume 4," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ito_95-2, October.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 8553.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:8553
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert F. Tamura, 1990. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Michael Bruno, 1993. "Inflation and Growth in an Integrated Approach," NBER Working Papers 4422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Collins, Susan M, 1990. "Lessons from Korean Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 104-07, May.
    4. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Kallal, Hedi D. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Scholarly Articles 3451309, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    5. William Easterly & Michael Kremer & Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1993. "Good Policy or Good Luck? Country Growth Performance and Temporary Shocks," NBER Working Papers 4474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance, entrepreneurship and growth: Theory and evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 513-542, December.
    7. Ciccone, Antonio & Hall, Robert E, 1996. "Productivity and the Density of Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 54-70, March.
    8. Feder, Gershon, 1983. "On exports and economic growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1-2), pages 59-73.
    9. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2232, David K. Levine.
    10. Wontack Hong, 1993. "Export-Oriented Growth and Equity in Korea," NBER Chapters, in: Trade and Protectionism, NBER-EASE Volume 2, pages 413-436 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Rauch James E., 1993. "Productivity Gains from Geographic Concentration of Human Capital: Evidence from the Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 380-400, November.
    12. Robert E Lucas, 1999. "Making a Miracle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2101, David K. Levine.
    13. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1992. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 942-63, September.
    14. Balassa, Bela, 1978. "Exports and economic growth : Further evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 181-189, June.
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