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Info sheet The tiger states

1st - 3rd generation of the tiger states (Klett)

Development of the tiger states from poor agricultural states to industrialized countries


Tiger states (or "little tigers") are those countries in East and Southeast Asia that were characterized by enormous economic growth in the second half of the 20th century. These are the countries of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. A few decades ago these states were still among the poorest developing regions in the world; today they are among the strongest competitors of the "old industrialized countries" in North America and Europe and are also known as Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs).


The development of the four tiger states from poor agricultural states to industrialized countries was similar, but the conditions were quite different. Singapore and Hong Kong were trading bases of the British colonial empire. For a long time, they have been integrated into a global network of flows of goods and services. Hong Kong in particular became the most important financial and service center in East Asia. In Taiwan and South Korea, on the other hand, the processing of agricultural goods and raw materials initially formed the basis of industrialization. In 1960, after the devastating Korean War, South Korea was still one of the poorest countries on earth.
The rapid development of the economy from the 1960s to the 1990s is common to all countries. In South Korea z. B. the economic growth between 1965 and 1990 averaged 7.1% annually. In Taiwan, the national product per capita grew by an average of 8.7% per year between 1952 and 1990. The growth phase continued in the 1990s, albeit with lower growth rates, and ended initially in 1997 when the economies suffered a setback in the wake of the so-called "Asian crisis". After three decades of growth, the data turned negative for the first time, in Singapore by -10.9%, in Hong Kong by -5.2% and in South Korea by -6.6%. Only Taiwan defied the crisis and maintained positive growth. Although the economies of the countries have recovered in the meantime, it can be stated that the enormous growth of previous years is no longer achieved almost automatically.

Success factors

Various factors are cited for the economic rise of the states. Some scholars claim that it is due to the fact that states have largely created free markets without burdening the economy with high taxes or social contributions. The companies in the tiger states were able to produce more cheaply than in Europe or America due to the significantly lower wages and ancillary wage costs and thus gained competitiveness. Others believe that it is precisely these states that have rigorously intervened in the economic process by defeating the opposition and interest groups such as B. Oppressed unions. Due to the authoritarian action of the governments in eliminating conflicting interests, it was possible to keep wages, but also environmental and labor standards low, and thus attract foreign capital. Another success factor is the turning away from the strategy of import subsidies towards an export-oriented economic policy. Domestic demand alone was insufficient in the more or less small states to achieve long-term economic growth, so that a strong export sector had to be built up.
Often references are made to the so-called "Confucian capitalism". Following this opinion, the Confucian world orientation, which places the community above the individual, means an advantage over Western world views. The Confucian work ethic is characterized by diligence, discipline and strong hierarchical structures. Employees accept considerably longer working hours than is the case in the old industrialized countries.

The "new tigers"

Since the 1980s, other East Asian states have experienced enormous economic development, similar to the tiger states. Therefore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are referred to as the "New Tigers" of the second generation or, more often, the panther states. But its boom phase was also stopped for the time being by the Asian crisis. The setbacks were there, for example. Sometimes even more than in the long-established tiger states, because no security systems had yet developed here.
In summary, it can be said that the old tiger states, like the industrialized countries, have meanwhile reached a standard that entails relatively high wage costs, etc. Over the last 30 to 40 years they have developed into industrialized countries and they, too, have to accept the relocation of production and thus of jobs to the new tiger states. By far the greatest economic competitor for the tiger states is currently growing with China, the "big dragon". However, with China's economic rise to become the largest market in the world over the next few years, there is also hope that the entire Asian economic area will be able to benefit from its boom.

Source: Geography Information Center
Author: Jutta Henke
Publisher: Klett
Location: Leipzig
Source date: 2005
Page: www.klett.de
Processing date: 09/26/2019

Asia, economy

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