Lessons learned from the dragon (China) and the elephant (India)

Essays from IFPRI's 2004-2005 Annual Report

Joachim von Braun, Ashok Gulati, Shenggen Fan, Montek S. Ahluwalia, Jian Liu

The world made significant progress on reducing poverty between 1981 and 2001 — the number of people in developing countries living on less than US$1 a day fell from 1.5 billion to 1.1 billion, or from 40 to 21 percent of the world’s population. In fact, however, nearly all this progress reflects gains made in reducing poverty in China and India, two of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The rapid economic growth and enormous poverty reduction achieved by China, and to a lesser extent India, are remarkable accomplishments that bear closer investigation. What do the experiences of these two countries reveal about how to sequence reforms and about what kinds of reforms are most effective in stimulating growth and combating poverty? These three essays compare the experiences of China and India to learn what steps each country took and what lessons they each have to offer.