The Elephant, dragon and eagle


The relationship between China and India is clearly one-sided: India is obsessed with a China which is approaching lift-off toward becoming on the verge of a developed nation within a generation (certain urban areas are already basically developed, albeit not particularly wealthy in comparison to Hong Kong or Singapore).

Often when I see interviews with regular Chinese about their opinions of the other country the fixation is upon the manifest Third World nature of India, which seems to be changing much more slowly than their own nation. For me GDP is less important that vital statistics like child mortality or life expectancy. And it is in these sorts of statistics where you see the gap opening up between the two nations. India is developing…. but China is leading, and converging faster with developed nations.

It is in this context that this piece in The New York Times jumped out at me, Amazon, in Hunt for Lower Prices, Recruits Indian Merchants:

While Amazon.com has sellers hailing from many countries, Mr. Cheris said that India and China are the two most important places for Amazon to recruit new merchants since both nations are sources of cheap manufactured goods.

Unlike China, where local companies dominate e-commerce, India is also a huge domestic market for Amazon. Although most of India’s commerce is conducted offline, Indians are coming onto the internet at a rapid clip through their smartphones. Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, views India and its 1.3 billion residents as vital to his company’s future, and he has vowed to spend at least $5 billion building up his India operations.

a, I was aware that Amazon really hadn’t gotten any traction in the Chinese market. I did not know that Amazon was so competitive in India, though Flipkart is still dominant there.

The story outlined seems to be part of a bigger trend whereby India is on a very different path from China in its relationship to the rest of the world. China’s economy is big enough and insular enough that it sees the world as either an export market or a source of commodities. It is quickly taking back its place of old as a lumbering hegemon. India, in contrast, seems to be developing a more integrative relationship with large economies such as the United States, despite its command and regulatory economy legacy.

Of course, the India-USA relationship is nothing like “Chimerica” in terms of magnitude, but the Sino-American relationship strikes me as very transactional. Despite the recent tendency of Indian society to espouse a stronger Hindu nationalist line, which is at odds with the West, it seems that there is more cultural exchange between elite Indians and Western societies in the deep sense of values, than has occurred with the Chinese and the West. And, yoga and aspects of spirituality notwithstanding, most of the cultural exchange seems to be toward cosmopolitan elites Indians assimilating to global values which draw from the mode of the West.

Ultimately all of this seems to have geopolitical implications. I’m assuming smarter people than me are keeping track of these trends….

58 thoughts on “The Elephant, dragon and eagle

  1. China v. India comparisons put the lie to a lot of conventional wisdom assumptions about what is really important to economic development.

    For example, China has a state that is still totalitarian to a great degree and still has highly censored access to lots of kinds of information, features that are comparatively absent from much of South Asia, with India, in particular, being more democratic and having more free access to information. Yet, China develops more rapidly despite this.

  2. India hasn’t managed to develop local alternatives to most tech industries, despite being the source of so much developers and engineers for european and american industries.

    A good example is Facebook’s domination. They got a lot of backlash when they attempted to get zero-rating (traffic to facebook would not count as internet traffic for your mobile) across India last year. India blocked that attempt, but still has no alternative like vKontakte (Russian’s main social network) or RenRen (the chinese Facebook, even started out of campus networking like Facebook).

  3. “Yet, China develops more rapidly despite this.”
    Well, the PRC started much earlier down the path of economic liberalization, so Deng gave them the advantage here. & we will have to wait & see whether China hits the middle income trap like other developing nations.

  4. ohwilleke might be referring specifically to Acemoglu & Robinson’s Why Nations Fail, which says “inclusive” institutions are paramount. They compare recent Chinese growth to that achieved in the early days of the Soviet Union, and predict that it won’t be sustained in the long-run unless they change their political institutions. This strikes me as not too dissimilar from Ludwig von Mises & Leonard Peikoff predicting doom nations like the US.

  5. ohwilleke, TGGP:

    We like to praise democracy in terms of liberty and civic values and so forth, but my gut instinct is that its (relative) strength lies elsewhere. For one, it tends to keep corruption to bearable levels in the long run because it is possible to throw the bums out; for another it provides protection of property that is generally more reliable in the long run.* ISTM that this is a more likely reason that China may stall out, not the lack of freedom from having little say in government. Both Germany and Japan modernized quite successfully in the late 19th and early 20th C without much of what we would consider democracy.

    *By protection of property I am not thinking of the (legal) ability to do whatever one wants with it, i.e., lack of zoning laws and regulations concerning pollution, etc. Rather, I mean reasonably secure title along with the right to dispose of it (or not subject to well defined rules and restrictions). The sort of protections included in the tail end of the US 5th amendment.

  6. i think we should be careful about using the word ‘totalitarian’ and limit to extreme cases like n. korea and stalinist soviet union. i think it’s pretty clear that the modern chinese state is authoritarian and despite some nods to communist social progressivism is more well modeled as an authoritarian state which is now fundamentally conservative (they fund confucius institutions!).

  7. Accurately or reasonably predicting future is critical for a successful investor. Popular opinions are not truth. Outcome is the only answer to who has the truth.

    If you are so convinced about your prediction, put some money on it. If you get right, you will be rich. If you are wrong, well, the God obviously disagree with your idea.

  8. Razib: For me GDP is less important that vital statistics like child mortality or life expectancy. And it is in these sorts of statistics where you see the gap opening up between the two nations.

    Though would note, this is just because of the “Preston Curve” for Life Expectancy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preston_curve#/media/File:PrestonCurve2005.JPG) and Child Mortality (https://investing.calsci.com/images/InfantMortalityandPerCapitaGDP.png) and fertility (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/da/TFR_vs_PPP_2015.png/1200px-TFR_vs_PPP_2015.png) equivalent.

    That is, China has converged on “Developed Country” LE, and MC…. because that’s what pretty typical middle income countries basically do and what China is becoming, in terms of GDP/capita (education + size sets it apart).

    Not because China has unusually convergent life expectancy / child mortality with Developed nations for level of GDP/cap. Economic growth’s just faster. (You may not / probably not have been implying at all that it did, but I thought some readers may interpret this way).

  9. @Miguel Madeira

    “In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.” ― Benjamin Graham (Mentor for Warren Buffett)

    Good luck

  10. As Charlie Munger put, it is a parimutuel horse bet in stock market. In investment world, when your correct judgment not shared by majority, you get rich! – That is how value investor make money. Be independent and away from mainstream opinions.

    “You can’t do well in investing unless you think independently” – Warren Buffett.

  11. “Despite the recent tendency of Indian society to espouse a stronger Hindu nationalist line, which is at odds with the West, it seems that there is more cultural exchange between elite Indians and Western societies in the deep sense of values, than has occurred with the Chinese and the West”

    Has this not happened (even more) in the last 100 years, to an extent, the existence of India as a country, the government, economic system, education and everything is derived from the west? I don’t know about the “exchange” part.

  12. I apologize for multiple comments, but the website does not allow me to respond to individual comments.

    The comparison by Acemogulu between USSR and china growth is duplicitous. The CIA/Bergson data showed between 5 and 6% growth for USSR in 1928-1960, and was found to be doubtful. Khanin reported less than 3% average growth between 1928 and 1941, a drop of nearly 30% between 1941-1945 and an average growth of 6% in 1950s. In contrast, China has been pretty much stellar in growth since 1978, exceeding 10% multiple years. Use of words like totalitarian for China, are a bit simple. The economy is dualistic combination od state and market. The government is all kinds of vague, with city dwellers being allowed to get away with a lot of freedom while being ruthless on migrants.

    I know that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it, but history does not make it simple to interpret.

  13. TGGP
    Mises’ thesis was that “Middle-of-the-Road Policy Leads to Socialism”. This is particularly strange given that his first, and by far, important article and book was on the incapability of economic calculation(and therefore planning) and inherent irrationality of pure socialism. The first article/book made his name and is incredible impressive yet within 30 years he, implicitly, argued that interventionism would somehow lead to the socialism. He was right the first time. Which is why his followers never bought the Soviet growth statistics while mainstream economic textbooks predicted Soviet parity with the US within a generation right into the late 80’s.

    The comparison with China is faulty though. China is not an attempt at a pure socialist economy. Classifying it is very hard though. It was inherently impossible to make an objective assessment of the Soviet economy because they didn’t have a price system that reflected anything but the planner’s targets. So the relation to living standards didn’t match at all. China on the other hand does have market prices so we can make more sense of the consumption. I guess the best way to describe it is as the Asian model, export Keynesianism, on steroids. It does have some of the old central planning features inherent in though. The artificial boosts from the government given to infrastructure and the secondary effects are sure to be quite powerful. The peculiar mix means that the sort of capital misallocations and booms and busts found in the West could reach more extreme heights in China.

    Anyway, the discussion of India vs China can ignore the institutionalist approach of mainstream development economics. All things being equal India might have inherited better institutions. But the IQ of China is so much higher that only Chinese instability can keep China from converging.* In contrast India very plural make up seems to suggest that it will have an elite region of the country with high development but the rest lacking.

    *One could make the obvious point that institutional quality is also about regime stability and therefore India could end up winning this race. Imagine a replay of China pre-Mao for a worst case scenario. Therefore the institutionalist theory holds up.

  14. Has this not happened (even more) in the last 100 years, to an extent, the existence of India as a country, the government, economic system, education and everything is derived from the west? I don’t know about the “exchange” part.

    yes. but think of japan. much of its institutions were copied from the west (mostly germany and britain, but also USA more recently). but japanese intellectuals don’t have much interaction/influence with the west. but ppl like salman rushdie and arundhati roy do and are influential. obv this is a small segment of the indian populace, but it’s there, and influential in india and to some extent outside of india.

  15. Ultimately all of this seems to have geopolitical implications. I’m assuming smarter people than me are keeping track of these trends….

    The geopolitical implications is basically the “Quad”, where India, Japan, US, and Australia tries to contain China. They pretend they have a lot in common because they are all “liberal democracies” even though in reality the only thing Japan, India, and the US have in common is that China is their strategic adversary number one while Australia isn’t even important enough to be considered a strategic adversary. While there are quite few people who actually believe in the stupid “defense of liberal democracy and freedom” rhetoric, in practice it’s a last ditch containment attempt. It’ll be interesting to see how well the containment works in practice even though it seems prima facie ridiculous.

  16. “Despite the recent tendency of Indian society to espouse a stronger Hindu nationalist line”

    Have said this before, and will say again: these are perceptions engineered by a media which tweaked its coverage patterns depending on the Government. Have you ever wondered by a motivated opposition has not managed produce one single statistic in its favor?

  17. “But But the IQ of China is so much higher that only Chinese instability can keep China from converging.”

    Do we really have an accurate assessment of the intelligence of China or India? Both countries have well over a billion inhabitants, after all. Are we also taking into account poor nutrition and environment in India, among many other factors keeping it back? China had and has fewer hurdles to overcome than India.

  18. Have said this before, and will say again: these are perceptions engineered by a media which tweaked its coverage patterns depending on the Government. Have you ever wondered by a motivated opposition has not managed produce one single statistic in its favor?

    was kind of taking the success of the BJP/NDA as evidence of the resurgence.

  19. Do we really have an accurate assessment of the intelligence of China or India? Both countries have well over a billion inhabitants, after all. Are we also taking into account poor nutrition and environment in India, among many other factors keeping it back? China had and has fewer hurdles to overcome than India.

    for various reasons the #s out of shangai are probably inflated by selection bias. but chinese diaspora communities of various socioeconomic strata all do well overseas and chinese in taiwan and singapore do well. there is some selection bias in overseas communities toward fujian and guangdong. would not be surprised if some inland/northern provinces have lower values. but there isn’t a huge variance in my opinion, as there isn’t in genetics (there is some, but it doesn’t map well onto what broader psychometric measures we have anyway; i’ve seem some studies and i don’t totally trust them, but range is not enormous).

    nutrition IS a major issue in india. more so than anyone else in aggregate fashion (south asia generally). but the performance of its diaspora is much more sensitive to selection effects, indicating lots of multimodality and structure. and the genetics bear this out, india has LOTS of structure. why wouldn’t we expect the same in terms of traits? (we see that physically)

  20. Then again, cases like this one come up and I say to myself. WTF? Well, maybe there might be a reason that India is lagging a bit behind China.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/world/asia/india-orai-donkeys-jail.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur

    What happens in a northern Indian town when you rip up someone else’s plants and saunter away?

    You go to jail. Even if you’re a donkey.

    News this week that eight donkeys had been jailed for four days for eating expensive saplings went viral in India, drawing a mix of ridicule and good-hearted laughs.

    The Indian government has been on a cleanliness kick, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has vowed to build tens of millions of toilets and clean up garbage in cities. According to the authorities, the donkeys were making a mess.

    “We had warned the donkey owners a couple of times, but they didn’t pay heed,” said R.K. Mishra, a police constable, according to an interview that was broadcast on an Indian news channel.

    Television footage showed the donkeys, in the town of Orai in Uttar Pradesh state, plodding out of a scruffy jail, walking single file, heads bowed. The way the scene was filmed made it look like a classic police perp walk.

    Also, hard to tell if this is just a “had to be there joke” or actual stupidity. Probably the former, but still. Some of the horror stories about the failing court system in India are no joke.

    Obviously, this violates all of the cardinal sins of anecdotal evidence in the second most populous country on Earth and the rule that only the weirdest stuff makes the U.S. news in places that historically aren’t very heavily covered by the U.S. media due to a lack of U.S. ties.

    And honestly, maybe it doesn’t make a lot of sense to look for deep reasons for differences when progress on child mortality in India is only lagging China by twenty years and both countries have vast divides between more developed areas and more backward ones. A twenty year lag isn’t even a whole generation. You can’t even tell the difference between a fashion magazine from 1995 and one from 2015 unless you’re a real diva, and there is absolutely nothing to indicate that the trend lines in both countries when it comes to material well being for the average person, are anything but good ones.

    In the big picture, the story is that economic development is progressing rapidly for billions of people and it is making a huge difference in a blink of a historical eye. It took more than 1200 years for Ireland to catch up to Anatolia in farming technology. It will take less than 2% of that time for India and China to come close to parity.

    “india has LOTS of structure.”

    Indeed. From a political, as opposed to a genetic perspective, the miracle is that India, despite a far more cultural and ethical diversity than China everywhere and not just at the fringes, has held together rather than dissolving into a morass of multiple nasty civil wars for regional autonomy beyond the Muslim-Hindu split and Bangladesh-Pakistan split and the Kashmir situation that South Asia has already endured. If the center hadn’t held, India today would be more like Afghanistan than the scrappy but consistently developing country that it is.

  21. ohwilleke
    “Indeed. From a political, as opposed to a genetic perspective, the miracle is that India, despite a far more cultural and ethical diversity than China everywhere and not just at the fringes, has held together rather than dissolving into a morass of multiple nasty civil wars for regional autonomy beyond the Muslim-Hindu split and Bangladesh-Pakistan split and the Kashmir situation that South Asia has already endured. If the center hadn’t held, India today would be more like Afghanistan than the scrappy but consistently developing country that it is.”

    I recall the brilliant globetrotting investor Jim Rogers writing after a visit that nobody expects India to hold together. Sort of reminds me of similar pronouncements of impending Israeli and Saudi doom that never seem to come true. This is a question I haven’t seen raised often enough. The IQ debate between China and India has figured a bit in the HBD sphere but haven’t seen enough focus on Indian diversity. Going by what is conventional thinking in the HBD sphere India should be much more unstable so what gives? Perhaps Razib can enlighten us on this?

  22. I don’t understand why the HBD community places such a great amount of stock in “selection bias” when it comes to Indians but not Chinese. I could of course be wrong, but I doubt the “average” member of the Chinese diaspora is your “average” Chinese, particularly today.

    I know common HBD theory is that the Brahmins are ultra-smart super-selected genetic specimens and all other castes are hopelessly backward and stupid, but how reliable is this? I’ve seen no actual data backing this up. Aren’t “low-caste Indians” the political elite in places like Mauritius and Guyana? Indians in Trinidad and Tobago, who are mostly descended from farmers, seem to do all right. Of course I’d love to hear what Razib thinks. I think things are bad for India at the moment, but I’m extremely skeptical that it’s as permanent as hard HBDers seem to believe it is. As several other commenters have said, it’s nothing short of a miracle that despite having all the problems it currently faces India does as well as it is doing now, and continues to develop, albeit slower than one may like.

  23. those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it, but history does not make it simple to interpret.

    Ay, there’s the rub.

  24. While there are quite few people who actually believe in the stupid “defense of liberal democracy and freedom” rhetoric, in practice it’s a last ditch containment attempt.

    What? It can’t be both? After all, that’s what the Cold War with the Soviet Union was.

  25. I could of course be wrong, but I doubt the “average” member of the Chinese diaspora is your “average” Chinese, particularly today.

    the last part is key (also, most of the HBD community is pretty stupid, so ignore them).

    just understand that the ‘model minority’ idea in the USA emerged in the 1960s with japanese and chinese who were descended from marginal and landless peasants and laborers who left japan and china at a time where there was malthusian surplus. in places like Kyushu and southern honshu the gov. was sponsoring the least successful farmers to leave since these people were basically a famine risk.

    similarly, the taishanese and such who left guangdong in the 19th and early 20th century were not the elites. especially as in places like the american west their prospects were to perform menial labor in marginal coditions.

    finally, taiwan was settled by fujianese peasants in the last 200 years. mainlanders are less than 10% of the population.

    there is just no place where these diaspora communities score low. though some of the super-high av. scores such as in shanghai seem non-representative.

    I know common HBD theory is that the Brahmins are ultra-smart super-selected genetic specimens and all other castes are hopelessly backward and stupid

    we don’t know enough about india to make robust generalizations. though the overrepresentation of brahmins in cultural elites in the diaspora is the same as it is in india to be sure.

    consider the huge variance among malaysian indians: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysian_Indians#Education

    i am much more confident about my assertions about the chinese than south asians.

  26. “China had and has fewer hurdles to overcome than India.”

    You wouldn’t have said that 40 years ago. At that time China was pretty much smoking ruins in the wake of Mao Zedong’s depredations.

    OTOH, China had a history as a organized civilization with a central government and a dominant unified culture. Getting rid of Mao and his demented revolutionaries, and allowing people a modicum of economic freedom allowed powerful cultural trends to reassert themselves.

    To me, an interesting question is whether and how the one child policy affected development, and how it will affect it in the future. Did it increase the amount of capital available for development by decreasing the the investment in children? Did it increase savings by forcing people to contemplate old age without lots of children to take care of them. Despite its relaxation, will future demographic patterns resemble those of Europe and Japan where sub-replacement fertility has begun to shrink the pool of prime age workers.

    In addition to demographic issues, China also has to deal with misallocations of capital caused by political dominance of a corrupt and undemocratic bureaucracy. And, with fraught international relations created by bullying its neighbors and engaging in mercantilist tactics with its trading partners.

  27. What? It can’t be both? After all, that’s what the Cold War with the Soviet Union was.

    It definitely can be both. But there’s a few obvious reasons that it isn’t really a defence of “liberal democracy”. 1) China isn’t the USSR. 2) While India is democratic, it certainly isn’t “liberal”. 3) It is also hard to judge how “liberal” Japan actually is. They have had mostly one party rule with only temporary breaks. Self-censorship is intense in Japan. The LDP is filled with many right wing reactionaries who still believe Japan did not do anything wrong in World War 2 (no, seriously*). There’s also a lot of connections between the LDP and the Yakuza. On a functional level, it is hard to see how Japan and China are all that different. 4) Other so called “mature liberal democracies” such as South Korea doesn’t even mind Chinese economic dominance.

    So yeah, there is much less ideological aspect in this new containment than the containment against the USSR. Assuming the Quad gets off the ground.

    * Just a side note, I actually think it is intense strategic myopia for the US to go gungho on empowering Japan. In actual Japanese right wing history, the only reason they have to live in denial regarding WWII is because the US waged an unjustified offensive war against Japan and implemented victor’s justice on it. If Japan goes nuclear I think it’s almost certain that it’ll remove itself from US influence.

  28. “the ‘model minority’ idea in the USA emerged in the 1960s with japanese and chinese who were descended from marginal and landless peasants and laborers who left japan and china at a time where there was malthusian surplus.”

    Fair enough, but couldn’t we extrapolate a similar trend with the first Indian immigrants to the United States? From what I’ve read, the earliest Indians to come to the United States (most of them Punjabi, iirc) were certainly not the highly educated “elite” migrants we receive today. Despite this, many of them managed to become successful (if not wealthy, per se) land and business owners. And of course there’s the Indian diaspora elsewhere. Are Indian Singaporeans, for example (the population descended from the “original” Indians, not new immigrants) a particularly super-selected stock? Again, if I recall correctly, Indians in Singapore perform roughly intermediary between the Chinese and the Malays. How many Indians in the Caribbean and East Africa were or are Brahmins?

    Similarly, is this overrepresentation of Brahmins in intellectual pursuits (something I’m not necessarily attempting to contest, mind you) uniform across India, north and south, or is it concentrated in certain areas? Again, HBD theory a la Karlin, Sailer, Derbyshire, etc. would have us believe that the light-skinned, Aryan, heavily high-caste north would outperform the dark-skinned, Dravidian, heavily low-caste south. Yet the opposite is true, as the south outperforms the north in every metric.

    Many questions, yet few answers, and the ones that do come often seem to be heavily ideologically based.

  29. 1) the punjabi-mexicans u r talking about were minuscule in # but yes they were landowners eventually

    2) singapore is hard to disaggregate now though. so many recent indian migrants. otoh traditionally they were placed btwn malays and han chinese as you note

    3) west indian south asians look mostly to be north indian peasants (i’ve checked). some people like vs naipul claim brahmin antecedents. no idea why brahmins would leave india to work as laborers….

    4) east african indians are generally mercantile background though not exclusively. generally from bania type origin, whether ismaili or hindu. south african community more diverse

    5) derb wrote once about the great performance of south indian IT professionals when he worked in that field as opposed to lighter-skinned north indians. don’t know about karlin but think u might not be characterizing sailer/derb views too well (readers of steve is a different thing….)

    6) re: brahmins. i have no explored deeply but south indian brahmins are very prominent. not so much north indian ones, though u have pandits like neal kashkari here and there. (not sure where to place bengali brahmins). south indian brahmins are 75% north indian brahmin + 25% south indian non-brahmin genetically (i’ve looked)

    Many questions, yet few answers, and the ones that do come often seem to be heavily ideologically based.

    most people are stupid so they rely on ideology. don’t see why you are surprised by this.

  30. Interesting. I would have figured Brahmin overrepresentation would be more pronounced in the north than the south. Brahmins are a significantly smaller share of the population in the south than the north though, yes? Surely this small population of Brahmins cannot be holding the bulk of south India’s present success (relatively speaking, of course) on their shoulders. I don’t know a whole lot about the history and current reality of caste in India, however. Any reading you may recommend on caste and/or the Indian diaspora would be greatly appreciated.

    And I will admit, I’m not particularly a fan of Sailer or Derb. Both are white nationalists, though they claim otherwise. It’s obvious in their writing where their biases lie (Karlin also, for that matter). Sadly, this sphere is incredibly biased in one way or the other (you being one of the exceptions).

  31. Re: razib Khan 10.49, 10.57, RW95:

    Singapore Indian population has been swelled by recent Indian additions that work like Indian immigration to US. This has actually made the conditions of Indians who originally settled in Sing. difficult. Owing to small number (0.25 million) Indian economic situation is very rosy in Sing.

    Re: sir Vidya and Trinidad, both, are one off and not comparable to say, general populations, and Guyana or Jamaica. Trinidad was not as sugarcane dependent as other states and the British moved a broader spectrum of people to Trinidad. Both, Vidya’s father and Grandfather moved into journalism and into labor politics as early as 1905 and 1929. Even today, Trinidad reminds me of Singapore (albeit with lots of natural gas) in somewhat peaceful coexistence of Indians and blacks, and, in general, better administration than a few other Caribbean nations.

    East African Indian diaspora was selef selected (to a major extent) and not descendanats of coolies.

    Finally, the south Indian Brahmin is a very small percentage of the population, and rigidly self-separated. As an example, to a limited extent, a few lower castes have been allowed to seep into north Indian Brahmins (such as Bhumihars) but no luck in the south. I can bet the 75% Brahmin +25% south that RK speaks is based on sex based dispesral into the south. The (relative) success of some parts of the south is mainly due to many communities actively pushing into education (male and female), not just the outcome of Brahmin success. But we need to temper this success story by noting that growth is geographically very coinstrained even in the south. This is not China, by any measure.

  32. I can bet the 75% Brahmin +25% south that RK speaks is based on sex based dispesral into the south.

    yes. i’ve seen mtDNA. south indian brahmins are really similar to other south indians. so it i think it’s definitely through women. may look it up again….

    As an example, to a limited extent, a few lower castes have been allowed to seep into north Indian Brahmins (such as Bhumihars) but no luck in the south.

    the genetic/cultural distinctiveness has more gradation in n & west india. eg brahmins in UP are not that different from kshatriyas in ANI/ASI fraction. and zack ajmal has shown that in places like punjab there is a lot less variation of ANI/ASI as a function of caste as a lot of groups have similar fractions (and jatt in punjab are MORE ANI than punjabi brahmins i think).

    ps. bengali brahmins are somewhat like south indian brahmins genetically. their east asian fraction is higher than any other brahmins, but lower than other bengalis.

  33. Vijay,

    How recent is high-skilled immigration from India to Singapore?

    Regarding Trinidad, very interesting. Trinidad is undoubtedly one of the most successful islands in the Caribbean though I think the bulk of its success can be attributed to the blacks and not the Indians, however. How does the Indian diaspora in other Caribbean countries compare to Indo-Trinidadians?

    Not particularly surprised as to the extreme self-selection of east African Indians, as I knew that most if not all of the East African Indian population was mercantile.

    As for South India, I never claimed that it was comparable to China by any means. South India suffers from the same issues that plague the north, though I think we can agree that South India is overall in a better position than the north in many areas. If what you say is true, than surely lack of education (among many, many other things) is what is holding large parts of India back, something I put stock in.

  34. Surely this small population of Brahmins cannot be holding the bulk of south India’s present success (relatively speaking, of course) on their shoulders.

    nope. see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/11/world/asia/11caste.html

    also, see sri lanka. way more successful than india, though it’s GDP isn’t ‘asian tiger’ level. sri lanka seems socioculturally very different from mainland south asia despite being racially exactly the same.

  35. Mr. Khan, I posted a comment earlier replying to Roger Sweeny’s comment. Did it get caught in the spam filter or was there any particular reason it got blocked? If the comment got lost I’ll write it again.

  36. Walter – “Despite its relaxation, will future demographic patterns resemble those of Europe and Japan where sub-replacement fertility has begun to shrink the pool of prime age workers.”

    This is already happening, with widely reported labour shortages. Ageing population definitely has the Chinese leadership worried and is a prime reason that China has relaxed the one child policy, and looks likely to relax it further. But it has as much to do with demographic transition as the one child policy.

    I think the relatively high rate of household savings in China is more a reflection of Chinese traditional behaviour than anything else. Although gold currently doesn’t get much good press as a store of wealth, it is an underappreciated fact that China is now the world’s largest domestic gold producer, as well as its largest importer, having overtaken India. Buying and stashing away gold as a store of personal savings has long been traditional Chinese behaviour, but it doesn’t get counted as part of estimation of average personal savings, which are still high by world standards and much higher than in Australia, for example, which has among the highest personal debt levels in the world (together with Canada and Switzerland, for odd reasons I don’t understand).

  37. RW95:

    I hate to refer anyone to wikipedia , but the section “Contemporary period: 1990s – present”in wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Singaporean_Indians, is precise, and shows between 1980 and 2010 the Indian population increased from 6% to close to 10% due to changes in immigration policy executed I think in 1984-1988. More details in the book “The Encyclopedia of the Indian Diaspora. Singapore”.

    Also regarding Trinidad, the Indian/Black population is precisely 1: 1 (40% each). There is a segment called mixed who serve as the elite and governing, but Indians also can enter the club. I cannot tell what the role of Black population in the power structure is, but the Indian population appears to have more money, may be due to money sent back by Trinadian Indians in Canada and US.

  38. btw high skill indian migration to singapore is such that indians as a whole have the highest household incomes

    From your linked study, it seems that is a relatively recent phenomenon as already mentioned. The relative positions of Chinese and Indians in Singapore reversed in only 10 years.

    Avg. Household Income 2000 2010
    Chinese 5,258 7,326
    Indians 4,623 7,664

    Median Household Income 2000 2010
    Chinese 3,880 5,100
    Indians 3,438 5,370

    And the gain is loaded toward the mean rather than the median, further lending evidence to the idea of the high selectivity of the recent immigrants.

    Interestingly, according to the numbers in the study, while the Singaporean Malays still lag behind the above two groups, they still outgrew the Chinese at higher rates.

    It makes me wonder why the dominant, majority Chinese seemed to have benefitted at the lowest rates in terms of income growth in the ten-year span.

  39. China v. India comparisons put the lie to a lot of conventional wisdom assumptions about what is really important to economic development.

    For example, China has a state that is still totalitarian to a great degree and still has highly censored access to lots of kinds of information, features that are comparatively absent from much of South Asia, with India, in particular, being more democratic and having more free access to information. Yet, China develops more rapidly despite this.

    1. As Mr. Khan pointed out, China is not totalitarian. It is an authoritarian mixed economy.

    2. Authoritarian underdeveloped countries – provided they have competent leadership and relatively capable population – can mobilize society more rapidly than “open democracies.” For example, in neighboring South Korea (which arguably went through what China is undergoing now about 25 years earlier), the liberal-democratic Second Republic was paralyzed by mass unrest and economic problems while the military dictatorship that followed was able to start industrialization that paved way for modernization of that country. A visionary can implement that vision much more rapidly and with ease if he doesn’t have to argue with people.

    3. Being able to enter the world’s richest market at favorable tariff rates does wonders for export-oriented economies.

    4. South Korean government didn’t simply protect local companies (the way, say, Brazil has) – it rewarded those adaptable companies best able to compete overseas with protection in the domestic market as a prize (as well as channeling state-directed funding via bank lending, which was largely frozen to non-favored borrowers). China has largely followed this model until recently. This allowed both fostering of competitive ability (so lacking in traditionally protected domestic industry) AND protection of nascent domestic companies that are so vulnerable to outside juggernauts in completely open markets.

    5. That part is hard enough – even more difficult is to transition from this stage (export competition coupled with domestic protection) to the next “middle” to “upper middle” income/politically more plural stage of national development. South Korea went through this with some degree of strife (fall of the military dictatorship 1988-1993, financial troubles in 1997). We haven’t seen this with China… yet. I am not convinced that the current political system in China is sustainable in the long run. Of course, doomsday scenarios of China never seem to materialize to the consternation of people like Gordon Chang, but then again, the Soviet Union seemed pretty stable too… until it wasn’t.

  40. Twinkie – I think part of the reason is that Singapore has an astonishingly high number of foreign contract workers for the size of its population, largely from the Subcontinent, who work for lower pay, mostly in the construction sector. Singaporean locals (mostly Chinese) have become increasingly dissatisfied and vocal about loss of job opportunities to temporary imported labour. Last time I checked, the number of foreign contract workers was around 1 million, compared to a total population of 5.6 million, so the impact of this sector on the local job market has to be very substantial, and it also acts as a brake on pay rates for locals.

    Compare to Hong Kong, which has a total population of 7.4 million, but only about 400,000 or so imported contract workers, mostly females from the Philippines and Indonesia who work as domestic helpers (i.e. housemaids + kid minders while Mum is at work), so they don’t impact the labour market, plus they assist HK married women with children to remain in the work force; hence they are ‘total family income enablers’ in that sense, rather than being a drag on incomes for local Chinese as they are in Singapore.

  41. Singaporean locals (mostly Chinese) have become increasingly dissatisfied and vocal about loss of job opportunities

    Singaporeans seem to be experiencing the same bottom-top squeeze that my fellow Americans* are – inexpensive menial labor on one end and on the other side “moneyed, arrogant Chinese immigrants who don’t follow the rules” as one Singaporean put it. I think that was in reference to them driving luxury cars and getting into publicized accidents.

    *The Washington Post just published an article about how there are pockets of poverty amidst affluent Northern Virginia (specifically, once entirely pastoral Loudoun County) – peopled by blacks and a hugely increased Hispanic (read, migrant) population. Meanwhile the Census tract in the county with the highest median income is 46% Asian (mostly immigrant Indian) and only 40% white. High-low squeeze, to paraphrase Steve Sailer.

    This is not politically (or culturally, for that matter) sustainable, at least in the U.S. In Singapore, who knows? The people there are still docile to the government, but, perhaps one day…

  42. The squeeze in Singapore is real. The government made some recent changes that made it impossible to rehire contract workers or workers on PR if they have lost the job and directed jobs to citizens only (I forget the government directive. Added to the freeze of short term workers, there may be a decline in the number of subcontinental workers in the near future.

    I think the “moneyed, arrogant Chinese immigrants who don’t follow the rules” exist only in your Singaporean friend’s imagination. There has not been a large number of Chinese migration. Menial labor in Singapore is also not cheap. The issues of Singapore are more related to continuous progression to higher and less labor-intensive technologies that need more educated workforce, stranding the lower income workforce. The results in Singapore are intentional. Immigrants driving in luxury cars are a crime apparently, now.

  43. John Massey:

    The comparison of Singapore and HK are incorrect; neither are the conclusions regarding contract workers. Unlike in US, contract workers in Singapore are neither allowed nor can afford to stay on. Recent changes in employment law has made it even more difficult making people whose contract end, return back and not seek another contract. The 10-12% was related to late 2000-2010 construction boom. As shown in http://stats.mom.gov.sg/Pages/Labour-Force-In-Singapore-2016.aspx
    the contract work force is in decline since 2014 and will decline further, not only for contract workforce, but also for permanent residents.

    Large scale contract workforce movement in Asia is a feature, and does not resemble Mexicans in US at all. Millions of Indians, Indonesians and even Chinese migrate within the country or outside the country for short term. If anything, migrant labor is a dominating issue in China and India.

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