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Easterlin was of measurable social indicators like literacy, health, the first economist to suggest that while “happiness” income inequality, poverty, or environmental well- within any country was clearly correlated with income being into a nation’s calculus. levels, the same did not appear to be the case across These measures, however, might still not address countries. Well-off countries need to focus on issues other than GDP per capita if they are to raise their citi- 6 This line of argument abstracts from distributional considerations, but those can be resolved, in theory, by appropriate government policy.

3 Figure 3 Developing Asia GDP growth, 1990-2015 trillion (2010 dollars). Even though a considerable part of this was returned to rich countries through foreign exchange reserve accumulation, the gross flows are 12 important. More recently, many emerging economies have themselves become major investors both in 10 GDP growth (%) rich countries and in other emerging markets. They reflect the private sector’s business flows and a more 8 efficient global reallocation of capital. 6 One group of countries that has not seen growth accelerate despite globalization is the NIEs.

This is illustrated in the figure, which plots countries between 1975 and 2005. In a steadily growing economy, the per capita GDP would rise continuously over time, towards higher incomes. That is the experience of Republic of Korea. But many middle income countries do not follow this GDP per capita ($) the per capita incomes of three middle income 18000 Republic of Korea 15000 Avoiding the middle income trap 12000 9000 pattern. Instead, they have short periods of growth followed by periods of stagnation or even decline, 6000 Brazil or are stuck at low growth rates.

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Asia 2050: Realizing the Asian Century by Asian Development Bank


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