After decades of impressive growth, economies such as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan reached high income status nearly three decades ago. While they were able to avoid the middle-income trap by relying on more highly-valued exports, they have begun to exhibit symptoms of a high-income trap characterized by slower growth, wage stagnation, increasing inequality, an aging population, unsustainable entitlements, inflated housing costs and over-regulated markets. Their manufacturing industries can no longer compete with newly emerging economies with lower labor costs, especially China. Yet they find it difficult to promote innovation in manufacturing or upgrade to higher value-added services to remain competitive and provide benefits to a wider spectrum of society. As a result, social tension is on the rise, fueled by the perception that newly emerging economies and free trade are to be blamed for job loss, slower growth and social problems. These economic problems have strengthened national identities and promoted support for protectionism, which threatens to slow down globalization and growth. All this parallels developments in Europe and the United States where economic integration appears to threaten the identities of specific groups of people, especially those who see themselves as the victims of globalization. Are the challenges facing high-income countries in Asia different than those in other parts of the world? Is there a generational gap in terms of attitudes toward trade and globalization? What are the possible solutions to the trap?
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway, Room 1517
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697