Past, Present and Future
Edited by D. S.P. Rao and Bart van Ark
Chapter 9: Explaining Success and Failure in Economic Development
During the last 60 years many myths about development have been exploded through sober empirical analysis and measurement of development trends. Developing countries are not inevitably condemned to poverty and stagnation. Average GDP per capita has increased more than four fold. Life expectancy at birth has increased by some 25 years. Child mortality has declined and human capital has increased. Contrary to Malthusian predictions, food production has outpaced a rapidly growing global population, especially in densely populated developing countries. Developing countries are not locked into agriculture and mining. They can become powerful global players in manufacturing production and exports. The average figures in table 9.1 hide disparities in socio-economic performance. One of the most striking phenomena in the study of development is the diversity of developing country experiences. In Asia, several countries have experienced rapid growth and catch-up, including Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. Latin American economies grew rapidly until 1980, though their growth momentum faltered between 1973 and 2000 and their prospects are uncertain. With the exception of tiny countries such as Mauritius and Botswana and the exceptional case of South Africa, most African countries have experienced long-run stagnation since 1973, after a period of growth between 1950 and 1973. In the Middle East, economic performance of most countries has been weak, in spite of vast oil resources.
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