SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

Economic dynamics of the Asia-Pacific region

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year
This course provides an introduction to the post-1950 evolution and economic development of the main economies of the Asia-Pacific region (comprising Northeast and Southeast Asia). Term 1 first examines broad regional trends, including trends in industrialisation and development; the emergence of the regional trade-production network; the causes and effects of the Asian financial crisis and the policy measures taken since then; the 'middle income trap'; and environmental challenges to economic growth. The remainder of term 1 looks in more detail at Japan's bubble economy of the 1980s which was followed by 'lost decades' and the country's ongoing struggle with stagnation and deflation; China's economic transformation and opening up and current challenges in adjusting to the 'new normal', as well as at ASEAN's economic integration process which is progressing with the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community. Term 2 examines the role of the agricultural development and reform in the development process in both China and South East Asia. There is also a discussion of industrial development and technology transfer in Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan and the ASEAN Economies. It also looks as issues of human research development and labour market evolution in the Asia-Pacific region. Particular attention is paid to processes of skill acquisition through the educational system and on the job training, and how these process have varied both between countries and over time. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

Upon successfully completing this course students will be able to:

  • understand the growth patterns and macro-dynamics of the Asian-Pacific economies since c. 1950 and apply relevant economic theories and concepts in explaining these trends and fluctuations;
  • understand the forces driving agricultural development and the structural reform processes in rural areas in China and other countries in the Asia-Pacific Region;
  • compare industrial development and technology transfer in the industrial sector in the leading economies of the region;
  • evaluate the process of labour market reform in the countries of this region with particular reference to the skill acquisition through education and on the job training;
  • examine issues relating to poverty reduction and income inequalities across the region;
  • discuss the major economic policy challenges facing the Asian-Pacific economies and design adequate policy responses.

Suggested reading

  • ADBI (2014). ASEAN 2030. Towards a Borderless Economic Community, Tokyo: Asian Development Bank Institute.
  • Aoki, M., H.-K. Kim and M. Okuno-Fujiwara (1997): The Role of Government in East Asian Economic Development. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Bramall, C. (2009): Chinese Economic Development. London: Routledge.
  • Chang, H.-J. (2006): The East Asian Development Experience – The Miracle, the Crisis, and the Future, London: Zed Books.
  • Flath, D. (2014): The Japanese Economy, Third Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Gill, I. and H. Kharas (2007): An East Asian Renaissance: Ideas for Economic Growth, Washington, DC: The World Bank.
  • Perkins, D.H. (2013): East Asian Development. Foundations and Strategies, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Stiglitz, J.E. and S. Yussuf (eds., 2001): Rethinking the East Asian Miracle, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • World Bank (1993): The East Asian Miracle: Economic Growth and Public Policy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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