Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea have made a remarkable economic success that long fascinated the world. They have had a fast economic growth that has been sustained for at least three decades since their takeoff in the 1960s. These three countries witnessed, on average, more than a seven percent growth rate between 1960 and 1990 and their share in the economy of the developing world was almost 34 percent. Through this period, they became industrialized.
Hong Kong and Singapore focused on being international financial centers and Singapore in particular also focused on becoming a port hub. South Korea on the other hand focused on their manufacturing sector with an emphasis on information technology. All of these nations in one way or another became some of the leading exporters to the U.S. and they definitely export more than they import.
However, with this surplus in economic growth rates there is also environmental degradation and climate change. Asia's rapid growth has come at the expense of the physical environment. Deforestation, land degradation and water and air pollution are the "shadows" of this growth. They degrade living conditions even as incomes increase. With further economic growth, how we deal with these challenges remains a key to economic resilience.
Hence the objective of this study is to determine if the rapid economic growth rates of these three countries, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea are really a blessing or a curse.