|Born||7 October 1963|
|Institution||University of Cambridge|
|Awards||Gunnar Myrdal Prize 2003, Wassily Leontief Prize 2005|
|Information at IDEAS / RePEc|
|Revised Romanization||Jang Hajun|
|Korean pronunciation: [t?aad?un]|
Ha-Joon Chang (; Korean: ; Hanja: ; born 7 October 1963) is a South Korean institutional economist, specialising in development economics. Currently he is a reader in the Political Economy of Development at the University of Cambridge. Chang is the author of several widely discussed policy books, most notably Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective (2002). In 2013, Prospect magazine ranked Chang as one of the top 20 World Thinkers.
He has served as a consultant to the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, as well as to Oxfam and various United Nations agencies. He is also a fellow at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. In addition, Chang serves on the advisory board of Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP).
After graduating from Seoul National University's Department of Economics, he studied at the University of Cambridge, earning an MPhil and a PhD for his thesis entitled The Political Economy of Industrial Policy - Reflections on the Role of State Intervention in 1991. Chang's contribution to economics started while studying under Robert Rowthorn, a leading British Marxist economist, with whom he worked on the elaboration of the theory of industrial policy, which he described as a middle way between central planning and unrestrained free market. His work in this area is part of a broader approach to economics known as institutionalist political economy which places economic history and socio-political factors at the centre of the evolution of economic practices.
In his book Kicking Away the Ladder (which won the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy's 2003 Gunnar Myrdal Prize), Chang argued that all major developed countries used interventionist economic policies in order to get rich and then tried to forbid other countries from doing the same. The World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund come in for strong criticism from Chang for "ladder-kicking" of this type which, he argues, is the fundamental obstacle to poverty alleviation in the developing world. This and other work led to his being awarded the 2005 Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought from the Global Development and Environment Institute (previous prize-winners include Amartya Sen, John Kenneth Galbraith, Herman Daly, Alice Amsden and Robert Wade).
The book's methodology was criticized by American Douglas Irwin, Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College and author of a 2011 study of the Smoot-Hawley tariff, writing on the website of the Economic History Association:
Chang only looks at countries that developed during the nineteenth century and a small number of the policies they pursued. He did not examine countries that failed to develop in the nineteenth century and see if they pursued the same heterodox policies only more intensively. This is a poor scientific and historical method. Suppose a doctor studied people with long lives and found that some smoked tobacco, but did not study people with shorter lives to see if smoking was even more prevalent. Any conclusions drawn only from the observed relationship would be quite misleading.
Ha-Joon Chang has examined a large body of historical material to reach some very interesting and important conclusions about institutions and economic development. Not only is the historical picture re-examined, but Chang uses this to argue the need for a changing attitude to the institutions desired in today's developing nations. Both as historical reinterpretation and policy advocacy, Kicking Away the Ladder deserves a wide audience among economists, historians, and members of the policy establishment.
Following up on the ideas of Kicking Away the Ladder, Chang published Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism in December 2008. Chang countered Irwin's criticisms by arguing that countries that had failed to develop had generally followed free market policies. Chang also argued that while state interventionism sometimes produced economic failures, it had a better record than unregulated free market economies which, he maintained, very rarely succeeded in producing economic development. He cited evidence that GDP growth in developing countries had been higher prior to external pressures recommending deregulation and extended his analysis to the failures of free trade to induce growth through privatisation and anti-inflationary policies. Chang's book won plaudits from Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz for its fresh insight and effective blend of contemporary and historical cases but was criticised by former World Bank economist William Easterly, who said that Chang used selective evidence in his book. Chang responded to Easterly's criticisms, asserting that Easterly misread his argument. Easterly in turn provided a counter-reply.
Chang's next book, 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism, was released in 2011. It offers a twenty-three point rebuttal to aspects of neo-liberal capitalism. This includes assertions such as "Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer," "Companies should not be run in the interests of their owners," and "The washing machine has changed the world more than the internet has." This book questions the assumptions behind the dogma of neo-liberal capitalism and offers a vision of how we can shape capitalism to humane ends. This marks a broadening of Chang's focus from his previous books that were mainly critiques of neo-liberal capitalism as it related to developing countries. In this book, Chang begins to discuss the issues of the current neo-liberal system across all countries.
Chang's 2014 book, Economics: The User's Guide, is an introduction to economics, written for the general public.
He is the son of former minister of industry and resources, Chang Jae-sik, brother of historian and philosopher of science, Hasok Chang, and cousin of prominent economist and professor at Korea University, Chang Ha-Seong. He lives in Cambridge with wife, Hee-Jeong Kim, and two children, Yuna, and Jin-Gyu.