Since the Second World War, surprisingly few developing countries have experienced a truly sustained episode of economic and social convergence towards the structural characteristics of the advanced nations. East Asia has exceeded most regions in its achievement of convergence, and much has been written on comparative industrialization and development in North East Asia. Less discussed is South East Asia and the surprising and inclusive transformation several of its
countries has undergone.
Development and Distribution focuses on South East Asia and, more specifically, on Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. These three nations have all undergone a major transformation - in a way never anticipated - from being poor, agrarian countries to middle-income countries with developed industrial and manufacturing bases. How did Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand achieve such a transformation, and how did they achieve the transformation with a form of economic growth that was driven
by structural transformation, but that was 'inclusive'? Given that historically it has been thought that structural transformation tends to push up inequality, whilst inclusive growth necessitates static or even falling inequality, this last point is particularly salient to developing countries. Understanding
how the transformation was possible in a relatively small space of time, the extent to which it was inclusive, and the caveats and prospects for South East Asia is thus an area of enquiry significant to all developing countries as they seek economic and social transformation.
Andy Sumner is a Reader in International Development at King's College London. He holds associate positions at Oxford University, UNU-WIDER, the Centre for Global Development, Washington, DC and at Padjadjaran University, Indonesia. Dr Sumner's research focuses on the relationship between poverty, inequality, and economic development; in particular, how different modes of economic development and structural change have different welfare outcomes. His research focuses on these issues both at a global level and specifically relating to South East Asia, notably Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.