Asian Transformations

An Inquiry into the Development of Nations

Gunnar Myrdal published his magnum opus, Asian Drama: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations, in 1968. He was deeply pessimistic about development prospects in Asia. The fifty years since then have witnessed a remarkable social and economic transformation in Asia - even if it has been uneven across countries and unequal between people - that would have been difficult to imagine, let alone predict at the time. Asian Transformations: An Inquiry into the Development of Nations analyses the fascinating story of economic development in Asia spanning half a century.

Asian Transformations sets the stage by discussing the contribution of Gunnar Myrdal to the debate on development then and now and providing a long-term historical perspective on Asia in the world. It then uses cross-country thematic studies on governments, economic openness, agricultural transformation, industrialization, macroeconomics, poverty and inequality, education and health, employment and unemployment, institutions, and nationalisms to analyse processes of change while recognizing the diversity in paths and outcomes. Specific country studies on China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, and sub-region studies on East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia, further highlight turning points in economic performance and demonstrate factors underlying success or failure.

Including in-depth studies by eminent economists and social scientists, Asian Transformations comprehensively examines the phenomenal changes that are transforming economies in Asia and shifting the balance of economic power in the world and reflects on the future prospects for this continent over the next twenty-five years. It is a cohesive and multi-disciplinary study of a rapidly changing economic landscape, and makes an important contribution to understanding the complexities and processes of development from different perspectives.

Table of contents
  1. Part I: Setting the stage
    1. Rethinking Asian Drama: Fifty Years Later
    Deepak Nayyar
    More Working Paper | Rethinking Asian Drama
  2. 2. Gunnar Myrdal and Asian Drama in Context
    Ravi Kanbur
    More Working Paper | Gunnar Myrdal and Asian Drama in context
  3. 3. Gunnar Myrdal’s Methodology and Approach Revisited
    Frances Stewart
    More Working Paper | Revisiting the methodology of Myrdal in Asian Drama 50 years on
  4. 4. Asia and the World Economy in Historical Perspective
    Ronald Findlay
    More Working Paper | Asia and the world economy in historical perspective
  5. Part II: Cross-country thematic studies
    5. The State and Development
    Peter Evans, Patrick Heller
    More Working Paper | The state and development
    More Research Brief | Lessons from the transformations of Asian states
  6. 6. Economic Openness and Development
    Richard Kozul-Wright, Daniel Poon
    More Working Paper | Asian development after the Asian Drama
  7. 7. Agriculture, the Rural Sector, and Development
    Rob Vos
    More Working Paper | Agricultural and rural transformations in Asian development
  8. 8. Industrialization and Development
    Ha-Joon Chang, Kiryl Zach
    More Working Paper | Industrial development in Asia
  9. 9. Macroeconomic Perspective on Development
    Amit Bhaduri
    More Working Paper | A macroeconomic perspective on Asian development
  10. 10. Poverty and Inequality
    Guanghua Wan, Chen Wang
    More Working Paper | Poverty and inequality in Asia
    More Research Brief | A snapshot of poverty and inequality in Asia
  11. 11. Education and Health
    Sudipto Mundle
    More Working Paper | Fifty years of Asian experience in the spread of education and healthcare
  12. 12. Unemployment, Employment and Development
    Rolph van der Hoeven
    More Working Paper | Employment and development in Asia
    More Research Brief | Six factors that determine future development of economies and labour markets in Asia
  13. 13. Institutions and Development
    Mushtaq H. Khan
    More Working Paper | Institutions and Asia’s development
  14. 14. Nationalism and Development
    Prasenjit Duara
    More Working Paper | Nationalism and development in Asia
  15. Part III: Country studies
    15. China
    Justin Lin
    More Working Paper | China’s growth miracle in the context of Asian transformation
  16. 16. India
    Kaushik Basu
    More Working Paper | A short history of India's economy
  17. 17. Indonesia
    Peter Timmer
    More Working Paper | Pro-poor growth in Indonesia
  18. 18. Vietnam
    Finn Tarp
    More Working Paper | Vietnam
  19. 19. East Asia
    Robert Wade
    More Working Paper | Escaping the periphery
  20. 20. Southeast Asia
    Manuel F. Montes
    More Working Paper | Six development paths in Southeast Asia
  21. 21. South Asia
    S. R. Osmani
    More Working Paper | Socio-economic development in South Asia
Show all

The book offers balanced assessments of numerous underlying factors and conditions that have jointly given rise to diversity in Asia. It presents a persuasive, and more nuanced, story of how fast-moving transformations in multiple dimensions have been played out in Asia, with observed diversity among the subregions of Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. Machiko Nissanke. Book review featured in The Developing Economies.