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Republic of Korea: four decades of equitable growth (English)

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  • Republic of Korea: four decades of equitable growth (English)
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Title Republic of Korea: four decades of equitable growth (English)
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Material Type Reports
Publisher

World Bank (WB)

Date 2004
Language English
File Type Link
Subject Social Development < General

Abstract

Korea's success in combining rapid economic growth with significant reductions in poverty is paralleled by few other countries. At the beginning of its development drive, Korea's poverty problem was as great as that of most other developing countries. What is remarkable is the speed by which, and the degree to which, Korea succeeded in bringing the problem down to an extremely manageable size. The effort had been successful by the end of the 1980s, after a hiatus in 1997.98 resulting from the East Asian financial crisis, the poverty rate again declined. The country's achievement is even more impressive considering that less than 25 percent of the country is usable for agriculture or other economic activity and that Korea possesses very few natural resources. The country also experienced a devastating civil war in which the major part of its infrastructure was destroyed. Korea's success was brought about almost entirely by adopting good economic policies, taking advantage of opportunities that presented themselves, and insisting on a disciplined work effort. That strategy has been maintained since the early 1960s. The primary lessons to be learned from Korea's experience are that properly designed and efficiently implemented policies are vital to economic success, that such actions can overcome even a severe shortage of natural endowments, and that the dramatic transformation of per capita incomes on the scale witnessed by Korea does not happen overnight, but demands a sustained commitment.