Cambodia: Rapid Growth with Weak Institutions


  • We acknowledge with thanks the excellent research assistance of Anna Cassandra Melendez, the support of the Asian Development Bank Cambodia resident mission, and very helpful discussions with friends and officials during our various visits to Cambodia. For helpful comments on an earlier draft, we thank the review editors, our discussants, Sothea Oum and Peter Warr, together with Hang Chuon Naron, Chan Sophal, and Dyna Heng. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the ADB or its Board of Governors or the governments they represent.

Correspondence: Hal Hill, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics, CAP, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia. Email:


This paper examines Cambodia's socioeconomic development since the early 1990s peace settlement. The country's economic growth has arguably been the fastest among post-conflict societies, driven by the credible restoration of peace and security, large public and private capital inflows, economic openness, reasonably prudent macroeconomic management, and a dynamic, integrating neighborhood. A legacy of history and small size is that the government has limited policy space, although this has not necessarily retarded economic development. We also highlight some key challenges, including rising inequality, uneven spatial development, weak institutions, and high levels of corruption. Looking forward, we highlight the importance of strengthening supply side capabilities, broadening the benefits of growth, and developing stronger institutions and property rights.