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How much of South Korea's growth miracle can be explained by trade policy?

  • Michelle Connolly
  • Kei-Mu Yi

South Korea's growth miracle has been well documented. A large set of institutional and policy reforms in the early 1960s is thought to have contributed to the country's extraordinary performance. In this paper, the authors assess the importance of one key set of policies, the trade policy reforms in Korea, as well as the concurrent GATT tariff reductions. They develop a model of neoclassical growth and trade that highlights two forces by which lower trade barriers can lead to increased per worker GDP: comparative advantage and specialization, and capital accumulation. The authors calibrate the model and simulate the effects of three sets of tariff reductions that occurred between the early 1962 and 1995. Their main finding is that the model can explain up to 32 percent of South Korea's catch-up to the G7 countries in output per worker in the manufacturing sector. The authors find that the effects of the tariff reductions taken together are about twice as large as the sum of each reduction applied individually.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 09-19.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:09-19
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  19. David Hummels & Dana Rapoport & Kei-Mu Yi, 1998. "Vertical specialization and the changing nature of world trade," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jun, pages 79-99.
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