When industrial policy worked: The case of South Korea

Source: VoxEU

In a recent paper, economists Choi and Levchenko (2021) study firm-level industrial policy measures in South Korea in the 1970s to examine their impact on the South Korean economy.

“South Korea’s experience with industrial policy is important to understand, as it is one of the ‘growth miracle’ economies of the post-war era, known for its rapid transformation from a commodity and light manufacturing producer to a heavy manufacturing powerhouse. It has been argued that industrial policy played a central role in this transformation, with the temporary subsidies having had a large and statistically significant effect on firm sales as long as 30 years after they ended.”

The authors conclude that South Korea’s activist industrial policy appears to have succeeded even after taking into account its fiscal costs and general equilibrium effects. However, they also add a word of caution with this encouragement, that today’s policymakers face the same challenge as policymakers in the past: to identify conditions – such as dynamic productivity effects or externalities – under which activist industrial policy is welfare-improving. 

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Posted by at 9:15 AM

Labels: Inclusive Growth


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