Summary of How Asia Works

Looking for the book?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 10 minutes.

How Asia Works book summary


9 Overall

8 Importance

9 Innovation

9 Style


In the 1980s, economists popularized the term the “East Asian miracle,” thus feeding the belief that Asian countries have had homogeneous economic experiences. They have not, according to journalist and Asia expert Joe Studwell. China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea implemented their ultimately successful strategies years before any discussion of the “East Asian miracle.” They reformed their agricultural sectors, focused on manufacturing and then subordinated finance activities to these two priorities. Studwell challenges the belief that countries should leave economic development to market forces. He uses economic history to show that almost every advanced economy used protectionism at some stage to boost growth. He cites East Asia’s remarkable record to show why poor countries must remain steadfast in pursuing their goals, unswayed by trendy economic advice or pressure from their own entrepreneurs. getAbstract recommends Studwell’s comprehensive, rigorous and thought-provoking analysis to policy makers, historians, investors and economists intrigued by “the world’s most dynamic region.”

In this summary, you will learn

  • How history and policy have affected Asian economic development,
  • What three prerequisites paved the way for economic progress in some Asian economies, and
  • Why some East Asian countries have faltered.

About the Author

Journalist Joe Studwell has published several books on Asia.



The Economic Development Debate
East Asia’s rapid success has made it the centerpiece of economists’ debate about how poor countries can grow. In the past, the formula for East Asian economic development was as “simple as one, two, three: household farming, export-oriented manufacturing...

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

By the same author

Customers who read this summary also read

More by category