Economy of East Asia

The economy of East Asia is one of the most successful regional economies of the world.[1] It is home of some of the world's largest and most prosperous economies : China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.

Major positive factors have ranged from favorable political-legal environments for industry and commerce, through abundant natural resources of various kinds, to plentiful supplies of relatively low-cost, skilled and adaptable labor.

In modern societies, a high level of structural differentiation, functional specialization, and autonomy of the economic system from government is a major contributor to industrial-commercial growth and prosperity. Currently in the Far East, trading systems are relatively open; and zero or low duties on imports of consumer and capital goods etc. have considerably helped stimulate cost-efficiency and change.

Free and flexible labor and other markets are other important factors making for high levels of business-economic performance.

East Asian populations have demonstrated rapid learning capabilities – skills in utilizing new technologies and scientific discoveries – and putting them to good use in production. Work ethics in general tend to be highly positive.

Finally, there are relatively large and fast-growing markets for consumer goods and services of all kinds.

Its success has led to it being dubbed "An East Asian renaissance" by the World Bank.[2]


  • Definition 1
  • Modern History 2
  • Policy 3
  • Population 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • External links 7


Various organizations and disciplines define "East Asia" in different ways. The United Nations classifies South-east Asia (the 10 ASEAN members plus East Timor) as a distinct region, but other sources add North-east and South-east Asia together, which is the practice in this article.

The economic entities of East Asia are thus Japan; the Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea; the Republic of (South) Korea; the People's Republic of China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau; Republic of China (Taiwan); and the 10 ASEAN members: the Philippines, Vietnam, The Kingdom of Cambodia, Laos, The Kingdom of Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Indonesia. The lack of useful statistical data makes including East Timor problematic, and so unless otherwise indicated, it will be omitted.

Modern History

East Asia became an area of economic power starting with the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century when Japan rapidly transformed itself into the only industrial power outside Europe and the United States. Japan's early industrial economy reached its height in World War II when it expanded its empire and became a major world power. After its defeat and economic collapse after the war, Japan's economy recovered in the 1950s with the post-war economic miracle in which rapid growth in the Japanese economy propelled the country into the world's second largest economy by the 1980s.

In the early 1960s, the British colony of Hong Kong became the first of the four Asian Tiger economies by developing strong textile and manufacturing industries and by the 1970s, had solidified itself as a global financial center and was quickly turning into a developed economy.[3] Following in the footsteps of Hong Kong, the nations of South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore soon quickly industrialized thanks to government policies. By 1997, the four Asian Tiger economies joined Japan as East Asia's developed economies. Additionally, the economy of Macau, then a Portuguese colony, was also experiencing rapid growth during this period through textile manufacturing and the development of a gambling industry, which resulted in high levels of foreign investment into the territory.[4] Macau replaced Las Vegas as the world's largest gambling center in 2007.[5]

Present growth in East Asia has now shifted to China and the Tiger Cub Economies of the Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. As of early 2013, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore are the only East Asian nations that are considered developed markets by all economic indexes. Since the end of the 20th century, Japan's role as the principal economic power in the region has shifted to the Four Asian Tiger economies and more recently, China, which became world's second largest economy in 2010.[6] Furthermore, a 2012 report by The Economist noted that South Korea is expected to overtake Japan in terms of GDP per person at power purchasing parity by 2017, a feat already accomplished by Macau (2010), Taiwan (2010), Hong Kong (1997), and Singapore (1993).[7]

Percentage Share of Global GDP PPP[8]
Region 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
West Asia (15 economies) 2.0 2.3 3.0 3.8 3.4 3.7
East Europe (7 economies) 3.5 3.6 3.4 3.4 2.4 2.0
Africa (57 economies) 3.8 3.6 3.6 3.6 3.3 3.2
Latin America & Caribbean (47 economies) 7.8 8.1 8.3 9.8 8.3 8.4
East Asia (10 economies) 10.4 12.6 15.2 17.5 22.5 26.5
Rest of the World 64.4 61.9 58.5 53.3 50.7 45.4


Among the major policy choices commonly adopted in East Asia, and noticeably less so elsewhere in the developing world are openness to foreign trade, significant levels of government savings and an emphasis on education for both boys and girls. While these attributes were far from universally applied, they are conspicuously present in the region to a much larger degree than is the case elsewhere.[9]


[10] In 2005, East Asia had more than one-third of the world’s population, an estimated 2.075 Billion people. Growth during the decade is expected to 0.79% per annum, pushing the total to 2.154 million by 2010. South-east Asia is expected to grow more than twice as fast (1.32% p.a.) as North-east Asia (0.60% p.a.). 65.5% of the population is working age (15-59), slightly higher than the global average 61.4%.

The North-east / South-east divide holds for other demographic indicators, too. The average age in the North-east was 33.1 years in 2005, and 26 years in South-east Asia. Life expectancy (74.1 years vs. 70) is not as distinctly different, although infant mortality rates differ by nearly a third: 21.8 per 1,000 in North-east Asia vs. 28.3 in South-east Asia.

Region Infant mortality ratio per 1,000 live births[10]
Africa 82.6
South-Central Asia 56.3
South-East Asia 28.3
Western Asia 29.9
South America 21.4
Latin America and the Caribbean 21.8
Eastern Asia 21.8
Europe 7.2
North America 5.8

See also


  1. ^ ^ "Industry and Enterprise Development in the Far East", in Industry and Enterprise: An International Survey of Modernization and Development, ISR Publications/Google Books, 2nd edition, 2003. ISBN 978-0-906321-27-0. [1]
  2. ^
  3. ^ EhNet. "EhNet." "Hong Kong article."
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ China Overtakes Japan as World's Second-Biggest Economy
  7. ^ Asian economic rankings: A game of leapfrog
  8. ^
  9. ^ Emerging Asia: Changes and Challenges, pp. 68-69. ADB 1997 ISBN 971-561-105-2.
  10. ^ a b UN World Population Prospects 2008,

External links

  • Political economy of East Asia
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