MPDD Seminar Series on “Asia's Economic Transformation: Where to, How, and How Fast?" by Dr. Jesus Felipe, Advisor to the Chief Economist, Economics and Research Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB)

28 Aug 2013
Bangkok, Thailand

The key indicators for Asia and the Pacific are detailed in the flagship annual statistical data book of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). This seminar on this year’s theme chapter “Asia's Economic Transformation: Where to, How, and How Fast?" reviews the direction and pace of Asia's transformation during the last decades. Although during the last four decades Asia grew faster than any other developing region of the world, and a few of its economies have undergone unique transformation, the pace of transformation of many others is very slow and, in many of them, agriculture is still the largest employer and industrialization has hardly taken place. The type of economic transformation seen in many Asian economies is one where workers move from agriculture into low productivity services. The chapter also sketches the main contours of transformation that can be expected in the coming decades. For developing Asia to move ahead in the coming decades, the chapter argues that:

(i) agriculture needs to be modernized by deploying infrastructure, by introducing technological improvements, by developing the agribusiness sector and by linking on to Global Value Chains;
(ii) industrialization is a step that, in general, cannot be bypassed to become a high-income economy;
(iii) the service sector is already the largest absorber of employment and this trend will continue;
(iv) basic education of high quality matters for industrial upgrading and, in general, for the development of new industries that can compete internationally; and
(v) although it is important for countries to exploit their comparative advantage, some form of government intervention may be necessary and unavoidable to expedite economic transformation.

The seminar leader was Dr. Jesus Felipe (Ph.D., M.A., University of Pennsylvania) is Advisor to the Chief Economist, in the Economics and Research Department of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Manila, Philippines, where he has worked since 1996. He has also held academic positions with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and with the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Metroeconomica.

He has done extensive research in areas such as growth (especially the debate on the sources of growth in East Asia), the dynamics of structural change, industrial policy, inclusive growth and full employment, productivity, technological progress, the functional distribution of income, business cycles, and the path of profit rates. He has published over 60 articles in the Cambridge Journal of Economics, Journal of Comparative Economics, Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Eastern Economic Journal, Metroeconomica, Journal of Income Distribution,International Review of Applied Economics, Journal of Development Studies, World Development, Journal Post Keynesian Economics, Oxford Development Studies, Economics of Education Review, Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, among others. In 2006, he co-edited Labor Markets in Asia: Issues and Perspectives(Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). In 2009, he published Inclusive Growth, Full Employment and Structural Change. Implications and Policies for Developing Asia (Anthem Press). And in 2013, he has published The Aggregate Production Function and the Measurement of Technical Change: 'Not Even Wrong.