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States of development

Many have argued that the key to development in Africa is more financial aid and more democracy. But neither played a big role in the economic take-off of Asian countries like Taiwan and South Korea. What the Asian success stories have had, and what Africa has lacked, is properly functioning states

By Matthew Lockwood   November 2005

Once upon a time, in the early 1960s, there were two very poor countries, in what was then called the developing world. In one—let’s call it country A—income per head was little more than $100 a year. In another—country B—income per head was slightly higher, but still under $200 a year. In both countries poverty and illiteracy were widespread. Both received substantial aid from the US. Country A had recently emerged from a civil war, and country B was still mired in one.

In country A, the economy grew rapidly throughout the 1960s and 1970s. By 1986, it had overtaken…

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