"Lazy Japanese" and "Degraded Koreans": Does Culture Matter in Explaining Economic Development?

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Friday, September 29th, 2017

Friday, September 29, 201712:00PM - 2:00PMUniversity College, room 179
15 King's College Circle
Toronto, M5S3H7
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Culture has been frequently mentioned as an explanation for Asian successes in economic development. Typical is the comment by Samuel Huntington, the author of the controversial book, The Clash of Civilisations, offered as an explanation of the economic divergence between South Korea and Ghana, two countries that were at similar levels of economic development in the 1960s, argued: “Undoubtedly, many factors played a role, but ... culture had to be a large part of the explanation. South Koreans valued thrift, investment, hard work, education, organisation, and discipline. Ghanaians had different values. In short, cultures count”.
In this talk, Ha-Joon Chang will argue that those arguments trying to explain international differences in economic development in terms of cultural differences are often ignorant, usually fail to take a dynamic view of culture, and are invariably based on simplistic theories.

Professor Ha-Joon Chang is the economist at the University of Cambridge. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, he has published 16 authored books (five co-authored) and 10 edited books. His main books include The Political Economy of Industrial Policy (Palgrave Macmillan UK, 1996), Kicking Away the Ladder (Anthem Pr, 2002), Bad Samaritans (Bloomsbury Press, 2009), 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism (Bloomsbury Press, 2012), and Economics: The User’s Guide (Bloomsbury Press, 2014). By 2018, his writings will have been translated and published in 41 languages and 44 countries. Worldwide, his books have sold 2 million copies. He is the winner of the 2003 Gunnar Myrdal Prize and the 2005 Wassily Leontief Prize. He was ranked no. 9 in the Prospect magazine’s World Thinkers 2014 poll.


Martina Mimica


Nick Li
Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Toronto

Ha-Joon Chang
Economist & Author Reader, Department of Political Economy of Development, University of Cambridge

Paul Kingston
Director, Political Science and IDS, University of Toronto

Main Sponsor

Asian Institute


Centre for Critical Development Studies, UTSC

Development Seminar at University of Toronto

Department of Political Science, UTSG


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