What connections can be drawn between East Asia’s high economic growth rates and its Confucian heritage?
Confucian developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius, which is related to Chinese ethical, philosophical system and countries Chinese, Korea, Taiwan are strongly influenced by this Confucianism. The common cultural elements in Confucianism, which shared by all these countries includes, family, community-based solidarity, paternalism, entrepreneurship, state coordination and an emphasis on education. However, the performance of economic growth of that particular country depends on one of the above factors. For example, in South Korea, a new traditional economy in combination with traditional culture, like Confucianism, with a modern technology, enhanced its economy by drawing the elements of Confucian such as respect for education and the family-like harmony in Chaebol Corporation which has reduced the cost of transportation and also respect for hierarchy which all supported the economy growth.
Confucianism could be consistent with economic growth; particularly its emphasis on education was first argued by Kahn (1979). Confucianism, in general, stressed harmony and hierarchy, with supposedly mutual relations within the hierarchy were supported in general, for example, where those below should obey those above and those above have to work for the interest of others. In East Asian economy, where family firms are mostly dominated, the familistic groups such as a family with the husband and father in charge should be respected, could be observed consistently of the new traditional economy of the version of Confucianist. The role of Confucianism in shaping policies has been emphasized, where they played in the industrialization process by tailoring into local circumstances and political ideology through flexible manner. For example in countries like Japan and South Korea, it helped to introduce interventionist measures which helped for the economic growth and industrialization, without focusing much on social impact, which need to be family cushioned. The high levels of trust are conductive to economic growth has been highlighted in several kinds of literature (Fukuyama, 1995; Zak and Knack, 2001). This trust is more likely to be related to close relations has been a considerable evidence for the growth of many East Asian nations (Buchan and Croson, 2004; Carpenter, Daniere, and Takahashi, 2004) and this characteristic of economic growth could be viewed more broadly within the concept of civilization rather than religion or culture.
Kahn, Herman. 1979. World Development: 1979 and Beyond. Boulder: Westview Press.
Fukuyama, Francis. 1995. Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity. New York: Free Press. Zak, Paul and Stephen Knack. 2001. “Trust and growth.” Economic Journal 111, 295-321.
Buchan, Nancy and Rachel Croson. 2004. “The boundaries of trust: own and others’ actions in the US and China.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 56, 467-484.
Carpenter, Jeffrey P., Amrita G. Daniere, and Lois M. Takahashi. 2004. “Cooperation, trust, and social capital in Southeast Asian urban slums.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 56, 533-551.