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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Productivity, Efficiency and Economic Growth: East Asia and the Rest of the World

  • Author(s): Han, Gaofeng
  • Kalirajan, Kaliappa
  • Singh, Nirvikar
  • et al.

This study compares the sources of growth in East Asia with the rest of the world, using a methodology that allows one to decompose total factor productivity (TFP) growth into technical efficiency changes (catching up) and technological progress. It applies a varying coefficients frontier production function model to aggregate data for the period 1970-1990, for a sample of 45 developed and developing countries. Our results are consistent with the view that East Asian economies were not outliers in terms of TFP growth. Of the high-performing East Asian economies, our methodology identifies South Korea as having the highest TFP growth, followed by Singapore, Taiwan and Japan. Our methodology also allows us to separately estimate technical efficiency change, which is a component of TFP growth, and we find that, in general, the estimated technical efficiency of the high-performing East Asian economies was not out of line with the rest of the world.

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