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Migration and Elastic Labour in Economic Development: Southeast Asia before World War II


  • Giovanni Caggiano
  • Gregg Huff


Between 1880 and 1939, Burma, Malaya and Thailand received inflows of migrants from India and China comparable in size to European immigration in the New World. This article examines the forces that lay behind this migration to Southeast Asia and asks if experience there bears out Lewis' unlimited labor supply hypothesis. We find that it does and, furthermore, that immigration created a highly integrated labor market stretching from South India to Southeastern China. Emigration from India and China and elastic labor supply are identified as important components of Asian globalization before the Second World War.

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  • Giovanni Caggiano & Gregg Huff, "undated". "Migration and Elastic Labour in Economic Development: Southeast Asia before World War II," Working Papers 2007_06, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  • Handle: RePEc:gla:glaewp:2007_06

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    1. Vamvakidis, Athanasios, 2002. "How Robust Is the Growth-Openness Connection? Historical Evidence," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 57-80, March.
    2. Walz, Uwe, 1998. "Does an enlargement of a common market stimulate growth and convergence?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 297-321, August.
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