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The Tyranny of Numbers: Confronting the Statistical Realities of the East Asian Growth Experience

Alwyn Young
The Quarterly Journal of Economics
Vol. 110, No. 3 (Aug., 1995), pp. 641-680
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2946695
Page Count: 40
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The Tyranny of Numbers: Confronting the Statistical Realities of the East Asian Growth Experience
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Abstract

This paper documents the fundamental role played by factor accumulation in explaining the extraordinary postwar growth of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. Participation rates, educational levels, and (excepting Hong Kong) investment rates have risen rapidly in all four economies. In addition, in most cases there has been a large intersectoral transfer of labor into manufacturing, which has helped fuel growth in that sector. Once one accounts for the dramatic rise in factor inputs, one arrives at estimated total factor productivity growth rates that are closely approximated by the historical performance of many of the OECD and Latin American economies. While the growth of output and manufacturing exports in the newly industrializing countries of East Asia is virtually unprecedented, the growth of total factor productivity in these economies is not.

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