Gerard Ritsema van Eck
Klaas de Vries
Dr. N. de Deugd
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What was this research about?
The development records of Thailand and Ethiopia seem to have nothing in common. Whereas Thailand comes close to being one of the Asian Tigers and seems to be progressing rapidly on a track of industrialization and incorporation in the modern world, Ethiopia is the typical example of an impoverished African nation, albeit not one with a hampering colonial legacy. In this paper the recent economic history of the two states is nonetheless compared and valuable insights about whether these preconceptions hold and how the two nations have gotten onto their separate trajectories to growth were gained.
This paper is part of the Tracking Development project commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as such it aims at policy relevant conclusions. The core of Tracking Development is a large scale side-by-side comparative investigation of South-East Asian and Sub-Saharan African countries. A close examination is given to different development policies in both countries to identify which succeeded in their goals and why, and vice versa which failed and why. The framework that is used in this paper to investigate the growth (or stand-still) of both countries is that of the Tracking Development project at large. Three sets of policy initiatives are hypothesized to be crucial in the rapid and ongoing development of Asian countries, and the lack of these policies to be decisive in the relative standstill of African countries. These policies are: first, macro-economic stabilization; second, a set of policies aimed at improving life in the rural sector, increasing agricultural productivity and an ample supply of food; and third, liberalization of the economy granting economic freedom, especially to small actors.
In order to identify successful policies, narratives of two countries (in this case Ethiopia and Thailand) were set up, with a focus on discovering positive and negative turning points. These turning points are associated with two development indicators: economic growth and poverty reduction. When these were found, policies were identified which are responsible for these turning points.
By comparing turning points and policies between the two countries, we gained general insights in development.