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When and how did Japan catch up with Korea?: A comparative study of the pre-industrial economies of Korea and Japan


  • Lee, Hun-Chang


This paper compares the economic development of Korea and Japan during the past three millennia. In particular, it examines why, although the Korean economy was more advanced from around the six century B.C. to around the sixth century A.D., Japan subsequently surpassed Korea in terms of economic development and the gap continued to widen during the Tokugawa period (1603-1867). It is argued that until the eleventh century, the economic gap between Korea and Japan can be largely explained by geography, while from the twelfth to the seventeenth century, differences in institutions, systems of economic integration, and human capabilities - all shaped by a divergence in political systems - played a key role in Japan's catch-up with Korea.

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  • Lee, Hun-Chang, 2007. "When and how did Japan catch up with Korea?: A comparative study of the pre-industrial economies of Korea and Japan," CEI Working Paper Series 2006-15, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:hitcei:2006-15
    Note: [revised on 0704]

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, June.
    2. Kyoji Fukao & Debin Ma & Tangjun Yuan, 2007. "Real Gdp In Pre-War East Asia: A 1934-36 Benchmark Purchasing Power Parity Comparison With The U.S," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(3), pages 503-537, September.
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    pre-modern Korea; pre-modern Japan; per capita GDP; catch-up; geography; institutions; human capabilities; system of economic integration; small world economy;

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