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Manufacturing Growth, Trade and Labour Market Outcomes in East Asia; Why Did the NIEs Forge so far Ahead?


  • Chris Manning


  • Alberto Posso



This paper seeks to explain different real wage outcomes in two groups of East Asian economies: two New Industrialising Economies (NIEs: Korea and Taiwan), and three Southeast Asian economies (ASEAN-3: Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia), all of which grew rapidly for several decades prior to the Asian economic crisis. Drawing on international and national data sets, the paper examines dynamic interactions between manufacturing growth and labour market outcomes. It adopts the dualistic Lewis model, which highlights the role of ‘unlimited’ supplies of labour in economic development and the transition towards the turning point, as a heuristic device to inform the empirical analysis. A simple regression model is employed to examine the determinants of real wages over the first two decades of accelerated growth in the two groups of economies. This finds that while both demand and supply factors contributed to real wage growth, the supply variable which proxied surplus labour conditions was especially significant in the NIEs compared with the ASEAN-3. The model did not find any evidence for institutional factors having a significant impact on the different wage outcomes between the NIEs and the ASEAN-3.

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Manning & Alberto Posso, 2008. "Manufacturing Growth, Trade and Labour Market Outcomes in East Asia; Why Did the NIEs Forge so far Ahead?," Departmental Working Papers 2008-23, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:pas:papers:2008-23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1994. "Capital fundamentalism, economic development, and economic growth," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 259-292, June.
    2. Pierre van der Eng, 2005. "Indonesia's new national accounts," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(2), pages 243-252.
    3. Alwyn Young, 1995. "The Tyranny of Numbers: Confronting the Statistical Realities of the East Asian Growth Experience," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 641-680.
    4. Pierre van der Eng, 1999. "Some Obscurities in Indonesia's New National Accounts," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(2), pages 91-106.
    5. Susan M. Collins & Barry P. Bosworth, 1996. "Economic Growth in East Asia: Accumulation versus Assimilation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 135-204.
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    More about this item


    China; global production sharing; U.S.-China trade imbalance;

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology

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