How India continues to underutilize its most important resource

India is the second most populous country in the world. The story of economic growth in many Asian countries is one of export-led growth. This has been done through labor-intensive exports, taking advantage of a plentiful supply of labor. Japan was the first major economy to use exports as an engine for high growth and eventual prosperity.

In post-war Japan in the mid-1950s, per capita income was barely $ 300, which peaked at nearly $ 50,000 in the late 1990s, and stagnated a bit on the downside. from the top. That’s an incredible long-term real growth (corrected for inflation) of 8% per year for more than half a century. The story of the spectacular rise of Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea is no less spectacular. Their growth has earned them the “East Asian Miracle” savings label.

To some extent, Japan’s success has been emulated by Malaysia, Thailand and, to a lesser extent, Indonesia and the Philippines. The model is common. Growth driven by exports of labor-intensive sectors such as textiles and clothing, electronics assembly, toys, footwear and automotive components. This progression is neither linear nor static. As workers acquire skills through ‘learning by doing’, they move into higher productivity jobs with higher skill or knowledge content. Thus, low-end jobs such as making clothes or shoes are freed. These jobs then move to the next best country where the workforce is plentiful and cheap.


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