Poor nations are writing a new handbook for getting rich

Garment factory workers after their shift in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 15, 2023. The country built its success on turning farmers into textile workers. [Atul Loke/The New York Times]

LONDON - For more than half a century, the handbook for how developing countries can grow rich hasn't changed much: Move subsistence farmers into manufacturing jobs, and then sell what they produce to the rest of the world.

The recipe - customized in varying ways by Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and China - has produced the most potent engine the world has ever known for generating economic growth. It has helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, create jobs and raise standards of living.

The Asian Tigers and China succeeded by combining vast pools of cheap labor with access to international know-how and financing, and buyers that reached from Kalamazoo to Kuala Lumpur. Governments provided the scaffolding: They built up roads and schools, offered business-friendly rules and incentives, developed capable administrative institutions and...

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