Manufacturing Revolutions: Industrial Policy and Industrialization in South Korea

My project studies the impact of industrial policy on industrial development by exploring a canonical East Asian intervention. Following a political crisis in 1972, South Korea dramatically altered its development strategy with a new sector-specific policy: the Heavy Chemical and Industry (HCI) drive. With newly digitized data, I use the sharp introduction and withdrawal of the targeted policy to study its impacts. I show (1) HCI successfully promoted the evolution of directly treated industries. Next I provide evidence for two key justifications of industrial policy: network and dynamic externalities. (2) Using variation in exposure to policies through the input-output network, I show HCI indirectly benefited (non-treated) downstream industry. (3) Finally, I show both direct and indirect benefits of HCI persist even after the policy is withdrawn, following the 1979 assassination of President Park. Together, my findings suggest that the temporary push helped shift industry into higher value-added activity.

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