Chapter 2: ASEAN economic development: an overview
Economic development in the current literature refers to a consistent rise in real per capita income accompanied by structural transformation, poverty alleviation and improved distribution of income. It is, therefore, more than just about economic growth. There are other equally important aspects to economic development such as high life expectancy, better educated workforce, quality of housing and health care, lower incidence of poverty and so on. It is, therefore, a multidimensional process involving physical and social transformation with the fruits of economic growth being widely shared. This chapter attempts to explain the economic development performance of the ASEAN group of countries before the 1997 crisis, focussing on the ASEAN5 (particularly the remarkable economic success achieved by Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand and the economic recovery of the Philippines) in the early 1990s.1 Despite the two serious crises (1985 and 1997), the past two decades had witnessed a remarkable economic progress achieved by the ASEAN4 economies (ASEAN5 minus the Philippines) so that these countries were often dubbed as ‘new Asian tigers’. Before doing so, however, it is useful to present, first, an overview of the ASEAN6 economies (that is, the ASEAN5 and Brunei) in terms of their common characteristics, economic strengths and weaknesses. 2.1 2.1.1 OVERVIEW OF THE ASEAN6 ECONOMIES Common Characteristics The ASEAN6 economies are highly diverse economically and socially (that is in terms of size, historical background, resource endowments, stages of economic development, and culture). However, they have a number of common economic characteristics that can define ASEAN as...
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