Asian transformations – an inquiry into the development of nations

The dramatic changes in Asia, and its transformed significance in the world economy, are striking in most dimensions. UNU-WIDER’s project Asian transformations – An inquiry into the development of nations analyses the incredible story of economic development in Asia over the last 50 years, and reflects on how the next 25 years might unfold. Valuable lessons can be drawn from that experience — successes, failures, or mixed outcomes — that might help in thinking about the economic prospects of countries in Asia, whether leaders or laggards. The project thus makes an important contribution to our understanding of the process of development that is applicable to the entire developing world.

Using Gunnar Myrdal’s magnum opus Asian Drama: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations (1968) as a point of entry and reference, the project aims to produce two book volumes to sketch the remarkable picture of economic transformation in Asia — even if it has been uneven across countries and unequal between people — and its underlying factors that would have been difficult to imagine, let alone predict, at the time that Myrdal and associates completed their work.

The first volume, a monograph, provides an overview and highlights the similarities and differences between countries and country-groups to focus on factors that shaped development outcomes. The second volume comprises essays by different authors on cross-country thematic studies, country-studies, and sub-regional studies.