by Jan Priewe, University of Applied Sciences, Berlin


1. Old classification systems losing usefulness

The widespread use of the terms “developing” or “developed” country and “emerging” country lacks clarity and coherence. Due to a lack of consensus, there are three typologies in use. The World Bank had classified developing countries (until 2016) according to their gross national income per capita, with presently USD 12,476 – occasionally adjusted alongside inflation - as the watershed between the developing and the developed world. Low, lower middle and upper middle-income countries have the thresholds below USD 1,025 USD, USD 4,035 and USD 12,476 USD, respectively. However, the thresholds are somewhat arbitrary.

by Giovanni Andrea Cornia, University of Florence


One of the unexplained puzzles of development economics concerns the long-term divergence of countries that were initially equally poor. The most cited example of this divergence is that between Ghana (that became independent in 1957) and South Korea (a Japanese colony until 1945 that then went through a devastating war with North Korea until 1948). In the early 1950s, both countries exhibited a low GDP/c and uncertain growth prospects. Yet, by 2015 the GDP/c and life expectancy at birth (LEB) of Ghana were 1364 US$ and 61.4 years, while those of South Korea exceeded 27.000 US$ and 82 years.

by Michele Boario, UNIDO


After 50 years of brutal military dictatorship and stagnation, in 2011 Myanmar started an astonishing reform process which triggered a triple transaction in politics, economics and peace process. FDIs flocked into the country and according to the IMF World Economic Outlook of April 2016, Myanmar become the world’s fastest-growing economy with an 8.6% projected real GDP growth. Despite a recent significant economic slowdown, the IMF considers the country as an emerging market, and many observers continue looking at it as the Asia’s final frontier. Should we conclude that Myanmar is an emerging economy? The answer depends on how an emerging economy is defined. 

by Donatella Saccone, University of Turin


The Workshop "Why do some economies emerge while others do not?", organized by OEET, was held in Torino on May 15-16, 2017. Following the spirit of the 5th number of ‘Emerging Economies’ (Notes on the Concept of Emerging Economies,, the workshop intended to launch a first scientific debate on this theme and collect some contributions aiming to define such economies from a conceptual and historical point of view. The purpose was to try to answer the title question starting from an easily observable fact, pointed out by OEET in several other occasions: the concept of emerging economies, largely used in the economic literature since the ’80s, has been often adopted without referring to a precise definition. Indeed, apart from some selected attempts, international organizations, academic scholars and financial analysts have seldom tried to define what they mean by the term ‘emerging economy’.

by Vittorio Valli, University of Turin


If we compare the development path of South Korea, now a fully emerged economy, and Indonesia, one of the world major emerging economies, we can find some similarities and several crucial differences.



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