The Role of the State in Encouraging Economic Growth Essay


Despite the call for minimization of the role of the state in regulating trade and other economic activities by proponents of trade liberalization following the demise of the Cold War in 1980s and 1990s,it is evident that the state has a critical role to play in encouraging economic growth. It is even safe to argue that however much we may get liberalized in terms of trade and otherwise, the state naturally retains a significant role of facilitating economic growth and development let alone encouraging its growth.

The purpose of this task is to determine the role that the state should play in encouraging economic growth. In doing so we shall find out if East Asia is indeed a successful model of state-led capitalism, the role that different governments in East Asia has played in encouraging economic growth and development in their countries and the lessons that developing countries can learn from East Asian countries.

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The role of the state in encouraging Economic growth

The state in contemporary political life is a central institution whose functionalism in fact determines whether a country is recognized by the international community or not.

It is therefore important that we start by finding out what is state. To be sure just like other many sociopolitical concepts, the term state does not have a universally accepted definition. Broadly speaking the state is understood by many scholars as the binding political institution of a national government that upholds a monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a certain territory.[1]

Conventionally, the state refers to a major feature of the modern polity or political system known as a country or nation-state in political studies that enjoys the monopoly use of force. The force we are referring to here is coercive but it is important to note that it is morally acceptable by the majority in the society.[2]It is one of the main sources of power that the state relies up on in making the people do what many would not have otherwise done.

The state like any other societal institution has had a long history of evolution. Kirkpatrick, Katsiaficas and Emery argue that the state came into being alongside the city and civilization when tribal arrangement and transfer of property was replaced by organization based on locality in stead of kinship. What role should the state play in encouraging economic growth?

Irrespective of the many benefits that accrue from trade liberalization and the resultant reduction of the state in interference with the economic activities of the individual citizens as well as communities, the state has a decisive role to play in encouraging economic growth and development.

Trade liberalization to mention but briefly is underpinned by the principle of liberal democracy which holds that individuals are free to develop themselves social-economically as they wish through exchange of goods, services and ideas. Similarly communities are free to manage their development affairs as they wish. This sentiment by far rejects strict interference of the state or any other institution in the economic activities of the individual, organizations and communities.

There is however a consensus among economists beginning with Adam Smith that the state (importance of trade liberalization not withstanding) has a role to play in stimulating economic growth and development. John Maynard Keynes himself who is regarded as the father of the unavoidability of necessary states economic intervention because there is no individual who can afford to take risks.[3]

According to Keynes as cited in Sharma, one of the main roles of the state is to pump out money into an economy that is hit by depression which certainly no other individual businessman who can do. So that the state has a mandatory role to intervene and pump out money through a variety of incentive packages to enlarge lessening demands in such an economy.

Therefore, the state is a critical savior during times of economic depression because unlike individual citizens it has to spend more in order to enlarge demands at a time that is characterized by an unusually low economic activity with an of joblessness.[4]In this case, the state acts as a catalyst to encourage growth or speed up the process of economic growth.[5]

Keynes according to Sharma like many other New Rightist neo-liberals believed that the economy is a too complex and important thing to be left alone at the mercy of the corporate class and petty and . Sharma unlike socialists calls for a balanced state intervention in the economy.

He argues that the intervention of the state must be there as and when necessary to protect the economy as an always watchful regulator of free market economy. He cautions that the state should recognize its proper role in encouraging economic growth, that is, as an observant regulator of the economy and not its strangulator or the agent that squeezes life out of it .[6]

Sharma asserts that extreme intervention of the state in the economy is as worse as a lack of proper intervention because both scenarios lead to the dangerous growth of corruption, and inefficiency leading in the long run to an unavoidable economic collapse. He therefore concludes that a modest and well judged interventionist role of the state holds the key to a sustained and inclusive economic growth of a country as evidenced by many countries world .[7]

Apart from the important role that the state plays during times of economic depression and recession the state has critical roles to play during normal relative economic growth.[8]Mahler argues that governments are looked up on to promote economic growth, and that the states are acceptably able to do this by all means at their at their disposal like catching the attention of foreign as well as domestic investors and thus fostering state industry ,agriculture among other industries.[9]

Chakravarti concurs with Mahler by observing that the means to economic development is to found in liberating the productive energies of individuals and organizations which in economic terms implies that private investment both national and foreign must be made possible and promoted.[10]

Vane and Showdon observe that there are many strategies that the government can adopt to encourage education and training, capital formation, research and development which is requisite to economic growth and development.[11]

Education and training is critical because it provides the to drive and boost economic growth and development while capital formation provides economic foundation up on which economic growth takes place and research and development in various industries and particularly in technology comes up with new socioeconomic and technological ideas and also improves up on the existing ones in order to make economically viable.

To be sure, even where liberal economists and other scholars and experts call for a minimized intervention of the state, the state plays the all important role of creating an enabling environment in which the individuals and organizations can go about their economic activities satisfactorily and productively.

The state shoulders the role of maintaining security within the economy by upholding law and order without fear or favour. It also has the responsibility of availing and maintaining socioeconomic infrastructure, that is, transport and communication infrastructure as well as . The state also has a duty of ensuring political stability in the country in order to win the confidence of investors both domestic and foreign.

This line of argument is anchored on the premise that individuals would like to invest in economies where they are guaranteed of the security of their property and thus return on the same. In the modern welfare capitalist economies the government plays the role of providing economic assistance to those that economy has no ability of protecting.

The state ensures that the majority can access good quality social services like education, health care, transport, housing and even communication. This acts to reduce socioeconomic frustrations for the majority which can easily lead to social unrest which is not conducive to economic growth and development. What role has the state played in encouraging economic growth and development in East Asia?

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