Why Isn’t the Whole World Rich?

Dietrich Vollrath in Asterisk Magazine:

What happened in South Korea offers proof that fundamental transformations of living standards are possible in a few decades. South Korea’s experience, and similar growth trajectories in Taiwan and Singapore, have often been referred to as “economic miracles.” But what if South Korea’s economic growth wasn’t something mysterious or unpredictable, but rather something that we could comprehend and, most importantly, replicate? At current rates of growth, living standards in the poorest countries in the world will eventually catch up to the United States — in about 700 years.3 If we could identify what caused South Korea’s takeoff, we might be able to make the miraculous seem routine, and see more countries catch up over decades and not centuries.

More here.