This chapter presents an overall model of economic and social development in Taiwan. In particular, we identify four stages in the country’s postwar development: (1) a stage-setting period during the 1950s that created the foundation for (2) the export-led boom based on light industry during the 1960s and early 1970s, which created the resources for (3) industrial upgrading from the late 1970s to the late 1980s, which was followed by (4) slower growth as economic maturity was achieved but also a “political miracle” in the form of a fairly rapid democratic transition and consolidation over the last 25 years. As we shall see, there are strong but complex linkages among these four stages. For the first three stages and for the democratization in the fourth, resources that were created in one period helped promote the transformation to the next. During the last period, in sharp contrast, the legacies of past successes have contributed to economic and political problems.
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