COLONIALISM AND INDUSTRIALISATION: FACTORY LABOUR PRODUCTIVITY OF COLONIAL KOREA, 1913–37

Authors

  • Duol Kim,

    1. Korea Development Institute and
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  • Ki-Joo Park

    1. Sungshin Women's University
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    • This paper was presented at UC Davis, UCLA, UCSD, KDI, the monthly meeting of the Korean Economic History Society, and the Economic History Association meeting in Toronto. We are grateful to Greg Clark, Jongho Hong, Nak Nyeon Kim, Naomi Lamoreaux, Peter Lindert, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, Alan Taylor, Matt Wiswall, and other seminar participants for their helpful comments. Justin Morgan proofread the paper. The authors, however, are responsible for any errors. This work was supported by the Sungshin Women's University Research Grant of 2008.


Abstract

Unlike other colonial economies, Korea industrialised rapidly during its colonial period, which past scholars attributed to the industrialisation policy directed by the Japanese colonial government between 1930 and 1945. Our analysis of factory labour productivity from 1913 to 1937 suggests significant revisions to this claim. Factory labour productivity as well as total production grew rapidly before the active intervention of the colonial government. In addition, Korean entrepreneurs invested heavily in their firms and successfully competed with Japanese entrepreneurs. We conjecture that the pre-war experience of Korean entrepreneurs provided a critical foundation for the post-colonial economic growth.

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