Understanding East Asia’s Economic "Miracles"
The booklet is well structured. The first three chapters cover the cases of Japan, Korea and China (including Taiwan). The fourth compares and contrasts their respective experiences. The final chapter summarizes the experiences and discusses their applicability on other developing countries. Throughout, the author keeps it simple without imposing conclusions on us. Instead, he presents the debate and inspires readers to reflect further.
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Association for Asian Studies
Ann Arbor, MI
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East Asian Economics: A Case Study Review
This text begins with a very concise timeline of 'Modern East Asia.' I found this to be extremely useful as I am still in the learning stages at this point in my studies. Beginning with Japan, a short economic history is provided along with analysis. Korea, PRC, and Taiwan are also addressed in the form of short case-studies. The text ends with a comparison of the above-mentioned countries. The brevity of this text makes it appealing to students who are not fond of reading.
The text has an average 'Readability Score' of 15.0 which places it above the regular high school reader. As a middle school teacher, however, I do see how parts of this text could be used in a high school or even middle school classrooms. Students would find the reading to be rigorous, therefore I would recommend only short segments be used in the lower grades. Students should be familiar with concepts such as 'industrialization' and general economic principles prior to exposure to the text.
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Review of Understanding East Asia’s Economic Miracles
This is the third issue in the” Key Issues in Asian Studies Series” developed primarily for educators. The second edition of this book addresses some of the key changes in East Asia since the first book edition was published in 2009.
The economies of Japan, South Korea, the Peoples’ Republic of China, and Taiwan are discussed and compared. Information is broken down into separate well-defined sections which allowed me to learn a great deal of information about each country’s economy. I felt the economic policy information was clearly presented. All of the countries were compared during the same time frame and enough historical information was given to provide a basis of understanding of the country’s economic development over time. One issue as with any book of this type is data presented by year. By the time the book has been published the information is already outdated and may have changed.
The chapter on Japan begins with the Meiji restoration and concludes with the economy of 2011. The explanations of the vertical and horizontal keiretsu and the ties with bureaucracy (developmental state model) were concise and gave me a good understanding of the working relationship of industry and government in Japan. Due to this relationship, Japan in the 1990’s had a poor record for new industry development.
Today, Japan remains the third largest economy and is the second largest holder of US treasuries. Japan is now receiving a lot of competition from other countries. The population is aging and in 2011 Japan had a trade deficit.
The chapter on South Korea covers the transition of the country from a rural colony to its role as having the fourth largest economy in the world today. There is a brief comparison of North and South Korea and a discussion of the roles the leaders of these two countries played in economic development. Korea’s strong economy is based on business conglomerates (Chaebol). The book includes a table which delineates the differences between the South Korean model and the Japanese model. As recently as 2008, there has been a push by South Korean’s against the US-ROK free trade agreement which was signed in 2007. This free trade agreement is the second largest for South Korea, the largest being the European Union agreement.
The Chapter on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) progresses from the Qing dynasty to today. There is brief information on the Chinese civil war with the resulting development of two separate countries, Taiwan (ROC) and the PRC. The chapter discusses the changing relationships between the US and the PRC and the ROC. When the ROC moved to Taiwan they were able to take China’s foreign currency reserves with them. The US also provided monetary aid which helped with rebuilding the infrastructure on Taiwan and the development of the economy. Data are provided on the foreign exchange reserves as of 2008, however this information changes yearly and today has changed Taiwan from a world ranking of fifth on the chart to sixth. The discussion on the PRC economy begins with Deng Xiaoping and the reopening of trade with the west. Economic zones were created which led to the development of modern cities. With increasing investments abroad, the economy is continuing to grow. China does have problems caused by this heavy growth e.g. environmental issues and a wide income gap. Today China is moving towards a market economy. The author discusses the possibilities for China’s future in a discussion about the role of a communist government with the rapid changes in the economy.
The book concludes with a comparison of all of the economies, effectively tying the information presented in the book together. Similarities such as exports, global policies and emphasis on education are discussed. Major differences exist between countries in the areas of income distribution and international relations.
I felt this book presented a good introduction to the economies of East Asia. With the separate chapter discussions and the concluding economic comparisons this would be an excellent resource to use in the classroom.