Monday, March 18, 2013

Stiglitz on Singapore

Joseph Stiglitz writes:
Singapore has had the distinction of having prioritized social and economic equity while achieving very high rates of growth over the past 30 years — an example par excellence that inequality is not just a matter of social justice but of economic performance.
Finally, an example of a country that can walk and chew gum at the same time!  Oh, wait...

I'm not really that familiar with Singapore (aside from knowing you can't chew gum there), so I won't comment on the particulars, but its worth noting that the comparison Stiglitz makes of Singapore's growth record to that of the US is a little unfair because Singapore was once - not that long ago - a much poorer country than the US.  Standard growth theory predicts that low-income countries should "converge" (i.e., catch up) to higher income ones.  That means that they'll have higher growth rates.
(Data: World Bank)

That said, many low income countries haven't managed to converge, so Singapore does stand out as a successful example which may provide some useful lessons.


The Arthurian said...

Check out the graph in this short post from Diary of a Singaporean Mind. If Singapore has "prioritized social and economic equity", Lucky Tan is not aware of it.

Bill C said...

Thanks. That's interesting... some of the commenters on the NYT site seemed to have some informed doubts, too. One of them pointed out that the Gini coefficients of the US and Singapore are similar, which you can see here: