On the tyranny of numbers: East Asian miracles in world perspective
In a widely cited paper, Young (1995) showed that the East Asian miracles (Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan) grew mostly through input accumulation during the period 1966-1990. Using data for 83 countries taken from the Penn World Table, version 6.1, and Barro and Lee (2000), we use a common methodology in order to compare the growth performance of the East Asian miracles with the rest of the world. We find that, even though the TFP growth rates of the four East Asian miracles were not remarkable in absolute values, they were very high in relative terms. We argue that, since Young (1995) focused only on the four East Asian miracles, he did not notice that 1966-1990 was a period of particularly low TFP growth and particularly high factor accumulation in the world. Despite the fact that they had high rates of physical capital accumulation, the distinguishing feature of these miracles was their relative productivity growth performance.
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