Littlest Tigers

With rapid increase of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the economies of Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea have earned the reputation of being the “Four Little Tigers” of Asia. These four countries, primarily under the influence of Chinese culture had shown rapid industrialization in the decades of 1960s and the 1990s. Since the twenty-first century these four states have come under the category of ‘developed’ states.

These countries, which are now developed, had adopted an export-oriented pattern of development. Production for domestic use was discouraged by way of high tariffs. This, accompanied by emphasis on public education, went a long way in ensuring sustained rate of double-digit growth for many decades. Education enabled these countries to produce cheap, but productive workforce, which became their strength. Egalitarianism was encouraged by way of land reforms, which ensured that peasants were never left dissatisfied.

The above-mentioned measures brought a lot of economic benefit to these countries. They soon discovered that they had a favorable balance of trade. Though these countries had mostly non-democratic political systems in the initial years, yet they managed to ensure high rate of savings amongst their citizens. This was possible by focusing exports mainly to richer industrialized countries.

‘Tigers’ symbolize freedom, strength and bravery. These four nations, in spite of poor economic conditions, had been bold enough to allow a completely free economic system. Their openness and manpower produced great results. Ranked according to GDP; South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore are placed at 12th, 21st, 36th and 44th respectively. According to the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom published in 2007: Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea hold the 1st, 2nd, 26th and 36th ranks respectively.


Asia’s Four Little Tigers: a comparison of the role of education in their development

Industrialization and Welfare: The Case of the Four Little Tigers by James Midgley

`Four Tigers’ offer varied opportunities for U.S. firms