Growth Performance of Middle-Income Countries: East Asia vs. Latin America

The stellar performance of the four East Asian Tiger economies during the last quarter of the twentieth century is contrasted with that of middle-income countries (MICs) in Southeast Asia and Latin America over the past two decades. On balance, the Southeast Asian countries have done better than Latin American countries by pursuing export-led industrial strategies, however, unlike the Tigers, neither group has been able to enter the ranks of high-income countries. This note offers reasons for the shortfall in growth and briefly examines the medium-term prospects of the East Asian countries relative to those of Latin American countries. The evidence suggests that MICs in the two regions have gravitated towards "regional rates of growth" and that the growth thermostat responds minimally to policy actions.

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