The Economy of the Philippines: Elites, Inequalities and Economic Restructuring

The Economy of the Philippines: Elites, Inequalities and Economic Restructuring

The Economy of the Philippines: Elites, Inequalities and Economic Restructuring

The Economy of the Philippines: Elites, Inequalities and Economic Restructuring

Synopsis

This text critically analyses the Filipino economy and attempts to explain the problems that it has faced, as well as the solutions that need to be put into practice.

Excerpt

This book explores the uneven development of economic activity in the Philippines in terms of differences between regions and between categories of people. It looks at differences in incomes, wealth and levels of well-being and describes how capital, labour and the state have interacted to produce the characteristics and spatial distribution of particular industries. It also discusses the spasmodic progress of long-continued attempts to change the structure of the economy.

Among the economies of East and Southeast Asia in the 1980s, the Philippines was exceptional: its economy was shrinking, not growing. Only after 1993 did the economy at last begin to grow strongly, and not at the rates achieved ten years earlier in the rest of Southeast Asia. Filipinos are justifiably proud of the recovery, but many regret the unfavourable comparison with their neighbours. At the same time, they can point out that relative positions have changed often over the centuries.

Before the arrival of the Spaniards in the mid-sixteenth century the archipelago was one of the few extensive areas in eastern Asia without a form of political state. It then became for a time the largest colonial area east of India, but at the end of the nineteenth century it was the first Asian colony to reject imperial control and proclaim an independent republic. Although that was immediately overthrown by the new imperial power of the USA, in 1946 the Philippines was the first East Asian colony to gain independence peacefully (that is, excluding the colonies freed from Japanese control). The independent Philippines became one of the first countries in the region, after Japan, to begin industrializing protected by tariffs and other barriers. By 1960 the values of its manufacturing output and of its exports exceeded those of Taiwan or the Republic of Korea. This was, though, more or less the peak of its comparative performance. Its growth continued in the 1970s but at rates ever further behind its neighbours, until the crisis of regression came in the 1980s. The economy was in a serious condition for a decade: major problems became obvious in 1981, grew very rapidly worse from 1983 to 1986 and were then stabilized but not entirely resolved.

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