Should Asia’s economy be a model to follow?

Inclusive growth’s definition is simple: A condition in which state policies promote a more equal distribution of wealth and opportunity among its citizens. Yet, the term is way more complex than what the textbook definition tells us.

The discourse, as tackled by many economist, fits perfectly with the concept of inequality and economic development as it relates to capitalism, seen as an inclusive/exclusive social system that causes inequality. But many economists, when talking about growth and inequality, said that a single all-inclusive framework for a solution to inequality, applicable to all countries in an arbitrary manner, does not work, because each country has its own needs and its own different socio-economic starting point. The basis for the eventual application of inclusive growth policies is the analysis of economic and social inequality.

So even in the case of inclusive growth a more specific, regional, country by country analysis must be made. In Asia, the number of people who left the state of extreme poverty has drastically increased over the years and it is undeniable that people nowadays have better lives than people fifty years ago. Yet, while the number of people in extreme poverty decreased, the number of poor people increased. It seems obvious that the data used to classify countries and their socio-economic standing does not offer a reliable picture of reality. Gramsci, a notable Italian socialist during the fascist period, talks about an hegemonic system created by capitalism, a system in which an “oligarchy of the machines” (he obviously intended the owners of industrial machinery, not evil robot overlords) enslaves the workers and makes them a cog, an expendable good in a production system from which only a few reap the benefits. Now, Gramsci was a communist (he was imprisoned for that), but even if we ignore the very communist concept of absolute income equality, there is still the issue of inequality of opportunities, and the two things come together when it comes to inclusive growth. Many economists nowadays are talking about  changes the ADB (Asia Development Bank) should pursue in order to obtain inclusive growth in Asia’s developing countries. I for ones, strongly disagree with the need for an all-inclusive framework that should serve as a guide for all countries in order to obtain social equality. Especially in Asia, where varied political systems make it impossible to just group a geographic area on the basis of political characteristics, drawing universal guidelines for everyone and all. Culture, for example, is not taken into account when grouping countries in these frameworks. Confucianism, for example, creates a society in which it is expected and accepted to be less important and less relevant (with all its social and economic consequences) than your superior, your boss, even your peers, and if you are at the bottom of the pyramid you are almost expected to remain there and not complain about it. How is inequality perceived in these countries?

Is GDP  reliable source when it comes to the classifications of economies? Is a country ahead of yours in the charts better than yours? Asia, the richest and most productive area of the world, lacks a single country where the GDP is high and the GINI index is low (the GINI index calculates the inequality rate in a country, with a low rate being good and a high rate bad). Should any of the Asian economic systems one to follow?

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