Labour-Intensive Industrialization in Global History – A Review Essay.


In Labour-Intensive Industrialization in Global History, 11 leading economic historians explore whether East Asia’s pathway into modern economic growth can be meaningfully characterized as a trajectory of ‘labour-intensive industrialization’, a route distinct from the North Atlantic capital-intensive path as well as the more diffuse paths of industrialization in the labour scarce regions of the Southern hemisphere. This review essay situates this collective volume in the wider literature on modern economic growth to stake out its main arguments. It proceeds with an integrated overview of the main chapters to discuss some of the shared conclusions as well as some of the internal disagreements. It concludes with some critical reflections on the viability of the concept of labour-intensive industrialization, as well as the possible implications for areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa, which have largely remained outside the global diffusion of modern manufacturing.