Throughout the second half of the 1980s and the entire decade of the 1990s we have witnessed a spectacular economic performance by most of the founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), only to be interrupted by an economic crisis which severely gripped the Southeast Asian region in the years 1997 and 1998.1 For instance, for the period of 1987 to 1992 the growth rates of the ASEAN5 (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) had averaged 7.3 percent. This average growth rate was well above that posted by the developed market economies (2.8 percent) as a group, above that achieved by North America (2.5 percent) and generally above the world growth rate (2.2 percent). As a result of their high growth rates, their standards of living, as measured by their per capita incomes and other quality of life indicators, have vastly improved. Over the same pre-crisis period the per capita income of the ASEAN5 countries grew on average by 5.1 percent, although the individual country experiences varied with Thailand posting a remarkable growth of 8.3 percent, followed by Singapore (6.4 percent). The Philippines, because of its numerous economic and political problems in the 1980s, only managed to grow in per capita terms by less than 1 percent during the same period. But overall they have graduated from the ranks of low-income countries, as classified by the World Bank, to the ranks of middle- and in some cases uppermiddle-income countries. Singapore in particular has enjoyed the highest...
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