Educational meritocracy and East Asia’s development miracle
Only a few countries made the leap from developing to advanced industrial nations in the 20th century. Among the fortunate five, four are from East Asia: Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. Their politics and economic policies have varied widely over the decades, but at least one common denominator stands out: a rigorous early selection process for their political and business elites based on academic achievement.
GIS Dossier: Governance in Africa, the case of three countries
Three sub-Saharan African countries, all with decades-long, devastating civil wars behind them. Two are populous and large, well-endowed in natural riches, while one is a small, landlocked nation with no particular resources. Which one is Africa’s poster child of economic and developmental success today? This GIS Dossier examines why the longtime leaders of these three countries delivered such widely differing results for their societies.
Opinion: Property rights and the challenges of transplanting institutions
Since the time of Adam Smith, economists have understood that the wealth or poverty of nations hinge on the quality of their institutions. Political, economic and social rules of the game can be inclusive, offering opportunities for prosperity to all, or extractive, protecting the rents of a few. But the international effort to introduce one such rule – formal property rights – shows that even simple changes can have complex and unwelcome effects in alien cultural settings.
Tanzania tries bulldozing its way to growth
Tanzanian President John Magufuli seems to have based his rule on an unusual combination of traits: a pugnacious, personalized style of power politics; a statist approach to the economy; and a strong efficiency fetish. While this formula has brought some early successes, it may not be sustainable for long.
Opinion: Dilemmas of development aid
Like other areas of public policy, development aid has had its recurrent fads. The pendulum has swung from socialist-style big-push schemes to pro-market reforms and their latest iteration, results-based aid. This micro-oriented approach has recently come under attack for neglecting the wider “macro” environment of states and institutions. Decades after the flaws of the traditional aid model were exposed, economists are still casting about for a better alternative.
Spain and Morocco: trouble or potential?
The burden of controlling irregular immigration, terrorism and drug smuggling has fallen disproportionately on the European Union’s southern members, including Spain. Ensuring stability on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, one of the world’s key waterways, is particularly tricky. If the new government in Madrid can’t find ways to work more closely with Morocco, the problems both countries are facing could get worse.
Can India bank on its banks?
As the ratio of nonperforming assets in India’s banking sector rises, there have been loud calls for reform. The condition of loan portfolios at state-controlled banks is now so parlous that it is choking off the availability of new credit and forcing the government into ever more ambitious recapitalization schemes. But for all the smoke and noise, substantive change has been elusive.
As Indian agriculture expands, farmers and reform prospects suffer
India’s food output has nearly quadrupled over the past 50 years, but farm households – more than half the country’s population – are in some ways worse off. Rural distress is weighing on the country’s politics and eroding the government’s political base. If India wants to follow the path of the Asian tigers, it should start where they did: agricultural reform.
Will education let Africa reap its demographic dividend?
With nearly 40 percent of its population under the age of 18, Africa is the youngest continent in the world. This expanding work-age population should bring higher productivity, increased consumption and faster growth. But turning this workforce into an economic asset will require ending the mismatch between educational outcomes and market needs.
Ivory Coast’s recovery looks fragile
Ivory Coast is on the mend after a lost decade of internal turmoil and civil war. Yet recent army mutinies and protests by angry cocoa producers show how little real progress has been made in diversifying the economy and creating reliable security forces. On the horizon, perhaps, looms a presidential succession crisis as well.