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Recent growth experiences of Asian tigers: where does India stand?

Rashmi Umesh Arora (Bradford Centre for International Development, University of Bradford, Bradford, United Kingdom.)
Shyama Ratnasiri (Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia.)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The four Asian tigers, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan (also called Four Dragons) experienced miraculous high growth rates in the pre-1990s period and rapidly transformed their economic status from less developed “basket cases” to developed high-income countries gaining entry to the rich OECD club of countries. These countries even in the post-1990s, barring few years, have continued to grow further and are an inspiring role model for the newly emerging economies. The purpose of this paper is to adduce certain trends in these countries since the 1990s and specifically examine role of human capital and knowledge building, productivity convergence and intra-regional trade in the Asian tigers’. The authors examine these in the context of India.


The paper in a simple descriptive yet analytical approach explores the relevance of above factors in the Indian context.


The study observed that India ranks far below the Asian tigers in the knowledge economy index (KEI). The results at the sub-national level showed large disparities across the states in knowledge economy reflecting country’s difficulties in catching up with other countries overall. Regarding labour productivity, the results show that India was moving away from the benchmark country until 1990 (pre-reform period) and started catching up particularly due to physical capital (not necessarily human capital) since 1995 onwards.


The study is unique due to several reasons. First, it contributes to the literature examining contemporaneous Asian tigers and Indian economies performance as not many studies exist in this area. Second, the study also builds a unique first ever KEI at the sub-national level for India and is, therefore, a contribution in this respect. Finally, the study also contributes to the literature on Indian economic development.



JEL Classification —047, 053, 057

Earlier versions of this paper were presented in the International Workshop on Developing Economies, Department of Economics/Research in Economics, University of Venice, Venice, Italy and Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia. The feedback and comments received from the participants are gratefully acknowledged. The authors also wish to thank Colin Mackerras and Athula Naranpanawa for their useful comments on the paper. Further, the authors wish to thank Pradeepa Koralegedara for statistical help. Any errors are solely the authors.


Arora, R.U. and Ratnasiri , S. (2015), "Recent growth experiences of Asian tigers: where does India stand?", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 42 No. 2, pp. 143-162.



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