Growth and Distribution in the Market Economies of East Asia

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This is a review and comparison of seven books dealing with income distribution and economic development focusing on the countries of East Asia. The books reviewed are: Irma Adelman and Sherman Robinson, Income Distribution Policy in Developing Countries. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Edward K. Y. Chen, Hyper-Growth in Asian Economies: A Comparative Study of Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1979. John C. H. Fei, Gustav Ranis, and Shirley W. Y. Kuo, Growth with Equity: The Taiwan Case. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980. Walter Galenson, ed., Economic Growth and Structural Change in Taiwan. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1979. Ronald Hsia and Laurence Chau, Industrialisation, Employment and Income Distribution. London: Croom Helm, 1978. Felix Paukert, Jiri Skolka, and Jef Maton, Income Distribution, Structure of Economy and Employment. London: Croom Helm, 1981. Bhanoji Rao and M. K. Ramakrishnan, Income Inequality in Singapore, 1966-1975. Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1980. [Excerpt] Who benefits how much from economic development? This question is at the forefront of current thinking among social scientists. In contrast to the last generation of development studies, which was oriented primarily toward macro questions such as economic growth and capital formation, the current generation of studies adopts a more micro character. This redirection began in the late 1960s with attention to the problem of unemployment. The decade of the 1970s witnessed an outpouring of studies on distributional problems. In this essay, I will review several books written by economists analyzing income distribution in one part of the world, East Asia. But before doing so, it is imperative to review various approaches that have been used to measure change in income distribution in the course of economic development: different measures may lead to fundamentally different judgments about the success or failure of economic growth; they may even raise the question whether, in a given context, development took place at all.
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development; income distribution; East Asia; economic growth; labor market
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