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Explaining miracles : growth regressions meet the Gang of Four

  • Easterly, William
  • DEC

The authorexamines a range of cross-sectional variation in performance and policies for evidence on what distinguishes successes from failures. At about 6 percent, the growth rate of the Four Tigers - Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan (China) - are among the largest outliners in any study of growth. This is not surprising, says the author. The Four Tigers are Tigers because their growth rate was high. The Four generally have large positive residuals in growth regressions, but the author argues that this is not surprising for observations that were known in advance to be at the top of the sample. But growth regressions and, more generally, quantitative measures of"policies"are not very successful at picking out the Gang of Four as"most likely to succeed."Most observers before the"miracle"were pessimistic about East Asia. The Four are not nearly as superlative in policies and other country characteristics as they are in per capita growth rates. Large positive residuals such as those associated with the Four's high performance have historically been transitory. The stratospheric trajectory of the Four should be heading back toward earth soon, says the author. What may be unusual about the Four's success is that they were all in one region. At least casually, the Asian successes look a lot like growth radiating from poles, with Japan followed by the Gang of Four, followed by China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The great success of the Gang of Four does not imply a blanket endorsement of all their policies - they may have made mistakes that were more than offset by other good policies and, probably at least in part, by good luck. It is disturbing how large and transitory the unexplained element is in economic success. Perhaps the best way to think about good policies is that they make success likely sooner or later. When all is said and done, the story of the East Asian successes is consistent with the prosaic fundamentals: investment, education, financial depth, and low budget deficits. In these areas, the Four were above average.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1250.

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Date of creation: 28 Feb 1994
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1250
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  1. Antonio Ciccone & Robert E. Hall, 1995. "Productivity and the density of economic activity," Economics Working Papers 120, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Robert E Lucas, 1999. "Making a Miracle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2101, David K. Levine.
  3. Michael Bruno, 1993. "Inflation and Growth in an Integrated Approach," NBER Working Papers 4422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert F. Tamura, 1990. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Kallal, Hedi D. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Scholarly Articles 3451309, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
  7. James E. Rauch, 1991. "Productivity Gains From Geographic Concentration of human Capital: Evidence From the Cities," NBER Working Papers 3905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Easterly, William & Kremer, Michael & Pritchett, Lant & Summers, Lawrence H., 1993. "Good policy or good luck?: Country growth performance and temporary shocks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 459-483, December.
  9. Feder, Gershon, 1983. "On exports and economic growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1-2), pages 59-73.
  10. Wontack Hong, 1993. "Export-Oriented Growth and Equity in Korea," NBER Chapters, in: Trade and Protectionism, NBER-EASE Volume 2, pages 413-436 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1992. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 942-63, September.
  12. Collins, Susan M, 1990. "Lessons from Korean Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 104-07, May.
  13. King, Robert G. & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance, entrepreneurship and growth: Theory and evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 513-542, December.
  14. Balassa, Bela, 1978. "Exports and economic growth : Further evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 181-189, June.
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