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September 15, 2005

How Asian dictatorships differ from African ones

Interesting claim:

The reason that—South Africa apart—sub-Saharan Africa has not developed is that it has not been in the interests of the controlling elites to develop it. In contrast to the "developmental states" of Asia—such as South Korea and Taiwan—which grew rich in the 1970s and 1980s by educating their populations and investing in export industries, Lockwood calls Africa's states anti-developmental, arguing that they actively discourage business, trade and innovation. In Asia, the rulers, often military men or one-party-state dictators just as in Africa, had a sense of national purpose, and the state broadly functioned for the public good. In Africa, the rulers captured the state, its institutions and sources of wealth, and kept it for themselves. They used it not to generate national wealth, but as sources of patronage to reward followers.

Bryan Caplan makes a similar point.

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John Thacker

In fairness, Botswana's not doing all that badly either. The general point holds, though.

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