Kicking Awaythe Ladder / Edition 1

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How did the rich countries really become rich? In this provocative study, Ha-Joon Chang examines the great pressure on developing countries from the developed world to adopt certain 'good policies' and 'good institutions', seen today as necessary for economic development. Adopting a historical approach, Dr Chang finds that the economic evolution of now-developed countries differed dramatically from the procedures that they now recommend to poorer nations. His conclusions are compelling and disturbing: that developed countries are attempting to 'kick away the ladder' with which they have climbed to the top, thereby preventing developing counties from adopting policies and institutions that they themselves have used. This book is the winner of the 2003 Myrdal Prize, European Association of Evolutionary Political Economy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

'The most important book about the world economy to be published in years.' —'Prospect'

'This book is a joy: a fantastically useful teaching aid…a very necessary historical conscience in an age of amnesia.' —'The Business Economist'

'This is an intriguing book that raises important issues. Recommended.' —J. M. Nowakowski, Muskingum College, in ‘Choice’

‘Highly relevant to today’s debates about the role of policies and institutions in development as well as the role of government in general… It is a great contribution, not least for its historical approach, and will continue to influence the debate on development.’ —Seb Bytyçi, ‘ID: International Dialogue, A Multidisciplinary Journal of World Affairs’

Peter Evans
While the countries of the global South are pressured with increasing intensity to adopt idealized versions of Anglo-American institutions, their growth rates relative to the industrial North are declining. In "Kicking Away the Ladder?", Ha-Joon Chang addresses this problem head-on by building on a careful historical analysis of the institutions that the now developed countries actually used to make their way to higher levels of affluence and contrasting these with the prescriptions that they are currently imposing on the South. This is an original and provocative work, an immensely valuable contribution to current debates on development. Even those who disagree with Chang’s arguments will find them too carefully grounded and cogently argued to be set aside. This book will become the focus of a broad and lively debate that will enrich development theory and challenge contemporary global policy-makers.
Lance Taylor
People have "always known" that leading economies used directed policies to industrialize when they were less affluent and then told poorer countries not to do the same. But this common knowledge had never been adequately documented until Ha-Joon Chang took on the task. "Kicking Away the Ladder?
John Toye
In this lively, knowledgeable and original contribution to international political economy, Ha-Joon Chang puts economic history at the centre of the current trade liberalization debate, arguing that developing countries should not be denied policy instruments used by Europe and America for their own development. He deserves our thanks for making this argument with rare force and skill.
Charles Kindleberger
A provocative critique of mainstream economists’ sermons directed to developing countries, amounting to "Do as I say, not as I did". It demands attention.
Stanley Engermann
Ha-Joon Chang has examined a large body of historical material to reach some very interesting and important conclusions about institutions and economic development. Not only is the historical picture re-examined, but Chang uses this to argue the need for a changing attitude to the institutions desired in today's developing nations. Both as historical reinterpretation and policy advocacy, "Kicking Away the Ladder?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781843310273
  • Publisher: Anthem Press
  • Publication date: 9/5/2000
  • Series: World Economics Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 196
  • Sales rank: 375,129
  • Product dimensions: 0.42 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Ha-Joon Chang teaches at the Faculty of Economics and Politics, University of Cambridge.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: How did the Rich Countries Really Become Rich? Policies for Economic Development: Industrial, Trade and Technology Policies in Historical Perspective; Institutions and Economic Development: 'Good Governance' in Historical Perspective; Lessons for the Present; References; Notes; Index

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted February 17, 2013

    "Kicking Away the Ladder¿ Ha-Joon Chang

    The economist Ha- Joon Chang in his book “kicking away the ladder” addresses his topics in a logical and orderly manner. He focuses on the economic policies that were applied by the developed countries in the 19th and 20th century as a strategy geared towards driving economic growth. He highlights the irony or paradox that lies in the suggestions or proposals made by developed countries to developing countries in the light of “relevant” economic policies. The policies employed by developed countries were fundamentally different from those which they recommend as a panacea for developing countries. His first chapter explains how the rich countries became rich while the second chapter underscores how industrial and trade policies are structured to reduce inequalities between the developing and developed countries. Chapter three dwells mainly on good governance and a proper institutional framework while chapter four is just a conclusion of the book.
    Mr. Chang elaborates on the varied policies recommended to developing nations with the goal of fostering economic growth in these countries. In order to improve on their level of economic growth, an agreement has been reached for developing countries to embrace sound policies and set up good institutions. The book opines that it is highly paradoxical when the developed countries convince the developing countries to adopt democratic reforms which they never used when they were at a similar stage or the same stage of development, thus distracting them [developing countries] from using a similar path to economic growth.
    From a historical viewpoint, Mr Chang disagrees with the view held by other theorists with regards to the use of laissez faire and free trade by developed countries in their infant stages of development. He believes that countries like the US and the UK that recorded high levels of economic growth, diverted tested and successful economic models after achieving economic power and then created barriers to economic growth for other countries. The book proffers how the US and UK promoted and protected their infant industries and later on convinced the international community to adopt free and open trade policies. He postulates that the protection of infant industries is one of the most strategic secrets in ensuring a country’s economic growth. Therefore, preventing the developing countries from using the same policies which had been used by developed countries a century ago, developing countries are stripped off the potential of achieving economic growth.
    In conclusion, Chang in his book “Kicking Away the Ladder” advocates for the creation of good institutions and application of sound policies for developing countries. Chang propounds a number of policies that should be used alongside the stable macroeconomic policies and investment regime. Good institutions should safeguard property and ensure transparent corporate governance. These policies and institutions are considered good only if they are implemented with fairness but they do not operate in isolation since other factors must be integrated to achieve development. Agricultural and industrial resources are vital to development in developing countries, thus must be strongly considered. Many developing countries are reliant on agriculture, which is the bedrock of their economy necessitating close attention.

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  • Posted December 1, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Brilliant study of economic policy

    In this pioneering book, Ha-Joon Chang, Assistant Director of Development Studies at Cambridge University, explores development strategies in theory and practice. First, he studies how the developed countries became developed using active industrial, trade and technological (ITT) policies. Then he looks at the role that social institutions play in economic development. Finally, he proposes some lessons for the present.<BR/><BR/>He shows how Britain was the first country to perfect the art of infant industry promotion. Then he looks at the USA, which still has subsidies for its farmers, quotas for textiles, huge state spending on military R&D, trade sanctions against many other nations, and state funding for R&D in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries ¿ all protectionist measures.<BR/><BR/>All the developed economies used active ITT policies, yet they now promote free trade for all, claiming that it will benefit all. Renato Ruggiero, the first Director of the World Trade Organisation [WTO], said in 1998 that this world order has `the potential for eradicating global poverty in the early part of the next century¿.<BR/><BR/>But free trade policies have failed: they haven¿t delivered the promised growth. Free trade harms the less developed countries¿ national manufacturers and thus their prosperity in the long run. <BR/><BR/>A study of 116 countries showed that their GDP per head grew 3.1% a year with 1960-80¿s interventionist policies, but only 1.4% with the post-1979 Thatcherite policies. This study also proved that the quality of a society¿s institutions is not the key to growth; so does the similar slowdown in the developed countries since 1979. The World Bank and the IMF impose conditions that they say will ensure that `good governance¿ aids economic growth, but good institutions are the result, not the cause, of economic development.<BR/><BR/>Chang shows how the developed countries¿ states have vested interests in keeping poor countries as providers of cheap raw material and labour, in preventing them from emerging as rivals. The WTO restricts developing countries¿ ability to pursue active ITT policies. The WTO is a modern version of the unequal treaties that Britain and others imposed on China and other semi-independent countries in the 19th century. <BR/><BR/>The developed countries¿ states are indeed kicking away the ladder to stop others climbing up after them. They say, `Do as I say, not do as I did¿. But today we too need active ITT policies to get us out of the slump.

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