Ha-Joon Chang is a prominent South Korean economist. He has vast pedigree in the field of developmental economics, and has a number of publications to his name as well.
Chang was born on 7th October, 1963, in Seoul, South Korea. He initially received his education from the Seoul National University in Economics. Chang then traveled to the United Kingdom to pursue his graduate studies. He gained admission in to the University of Cambridge in 1986 and completed his program in Economics and Politics. Chang continued his stay at the institute by obtaining a Ph.D. in 1992, submitting his thesis, ‘The political economy of industrial policy’. After his doctorate, Chang took a teaching position at the Faculty of Economics at Cambridge, and has been at the university ever since.
Chang is regarded as an heterodox and institutional economist. During his time at Cambridge, he had the opportunity to work with renowned economist, Robert Rowthorn, who sides with the Marxist school of thought. Together, they delved in to the dynamics of industrial policy. The two considered industrial policy as the middle ground between free market forces and government planning and intervention.
Chang has gained considerable success as a writer. Over the course of his professional career he has published a number of articles and pieces in multitude of magazines and scholarly journals. In addition to these publications, Chang has also written a total of 14 books, including The Political Economy of Industrial Policy, Kicking Away the Ladder, and Bad Samaritans. He has also been responsible for editing 10 books which went on to be published. Chang’s book have been translated into 34 other languages and disseminated in 37 countries worldwide.
Ha-Joon Chang’s book, Kicking Away the Ladder, was honored with the Gunnar Myrdal Prize in 2003 by the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy. His book controversially claimed that the more developed nations achieve their prosperity by utilizing government intervention wherever possible, whilst discourage the poorer nations from doing so at the same time. The activities of the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund came under intense scrutiny in the book, which deemed them to be hindrances in the quest towards poverty alleviation. Kicking Away the Ladder was one of the major reasons why Chang went on to receive the Wassily Leontief Prize from the Global Development and Environment Institute in 2005 for his insights in the field of economics.
In 2008, Chang reiterated his stance in his next book, Bad Samaritans. He basically proclaimed that countries which had not achieved high levels of economic success in the past were the ones which had employed free market principles. Chang further stated that the economic failures resulting from government involvement paled in comparison to the ineffective free market policies which did a miserly job of developing the economy.
Ha-Joon Chang’s burgeoning reputation as an economist and writer saw him land impressive posts at world famous organizations as well. He has provided consultancy to a number of agencies of the United Nations, including UNCTAD, UNDP, INTECH and ILO. Such services have been extended to the World Bank, The Asian Development Bank, and the European Investment Bank as well, along with various NGOs. International governments have come to recognize Chang’s expertise, with nations such as Brazil, South Africa, Japan, Argentina, Canada and the UK, amongst others, employing him in advisory roles.