Ha-Joon Chang

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Ha-Joon Chang
Chang in 2011
Born (1963-10-07) 7 October 1963 (age 60)[1]
Seoul, South Korea
Academic career
InstitutionSOAS University of London
FieldDevelopment economics
School or
Institutional economics
Alma mater
Robert Rowthorn
John Hicks
InfluencesRobert Rowthorn
Joseph Stiglitz
AwardsGunnar Myrdal Prize 2003, Wassily Leontief Prize 2005
Information at IDEAS / RePEc
Korean name
Revised RomanizationJang Hajun
McCune–ReischauerChang Hachun
Korean pronunciation: [tɕaŋ ɦa.dʑun]

Ha-Joon Chang (/æŋ/; Korean장하준; born 7 October 1963) is a South Korean economist and academic. Chang specialises in institutional economics and development, and lectured in economics at the University of Cambridge from 1990–2021 before becoming professor of economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in 2022.[2][3] Chang is the author of several bestselling books on economics and development policy, most notably Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective (2002).[4][5][6] In 2013, Prospect magazine ranked Chang as one of the top 20 World Thinkers.[7]

Chang has served as a consultant to the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, as well as to Oxfam[8] and various United Nations agencies.[9] He is also a fellow at the Center for Economic and Policy Research[10] in Washington, D.C. In addition, Chang serves on the advisory board of Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP).


After graduating from Seoul National University's Department of Economics, he studied at the University of Cambridge, earning an MPhil and a PhD for his thesis entitled The Political Economy of Industrial Policy – Reflections on the Role of State Intervention in 1991. Chang's contribution to economics started while studying under Robert Rowthorn, a leading British Marxist economist,[11] with whom he worked on the elaboration of the theory of industrial policy, which he described as a middle way between central planning and an unrestrained free market. His work in this area is part of a broader approach to economics known as institutionalist political economy which places economic history and socio-political factors at the centre of the evolution of economic practices.[12]


Kicking Away the Ladder[edit]

In his book Kicking Away the Ladder (which won the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy's 2003 Gunnar Myrdal Prize), Chang argued that all major developed countries used interventionist economic policies in order to get rich and then tried to forbid other countries from doing the same. The World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund come in for strong criticism from Chang for "ladder-kicking" of this type which, he argues, is the fundamental obstacle to poverty alleviation in the developing world. This and other work led to his being awarded the 2005 Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought from the Global Development and Environment Institute (previous prize-winners include Amartya Sen, John Kenneth Galbraith, Herman Daly, Alice Amsden and Robert Wade).[13][14]

The book's methodology was criticized by American Douglas Irwin, Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College and author of a 2011 study of the Smoot–Hawley tariff,[15] writing on the website of the Economic History Association:

Chang only looks at countries that developed during the nineteenth century and a small number of the policies they pursued. He did not examine countries that failed to develop in the nineteenth century and see if they pursued the same heterodox policies only more intensively. This is a poor scientific and historical method. Suppose a doctor studied people with long lives and found that some smoked tobacco, but did not study people with shorter lives to see if smoking was even more prevalent. Any conclusions drawn only from the observed relationship would be quite misleading.[16]

Chang countered Irwin's criticisms by arguing that countries that had failed to develop had generally followed free market policies. Chang also argued that while state interventionism sometimes produced economic failures, it had a better record than unregulated free market economies which, he maintained, very rarely succeeded in producing economic development. He cited evidence that GDP growth in developing countries had been higher prior to external pressures recommending deregulation and extended his analysis to the failures of free trade to induce growth through privatisation and anti-inflationary policies.[17] Chang's book won plaudits from Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz for its fresh insight and effective blend of contemporary and historical cases but was criticised by former World Bank economist William Easterly, who said that Chang used selective evidence in his book. Chang responded to Easterly's criticisms, asserting that Easterly misread his argument. Easterly in turn provided a counter-reply.[18][19]

Stanley Engerman, Professor of Economic History at Rochester University praised Chang's approach:

Ha-Joon Chang has examined a large body of historical material to reach some very interesting and important conclusions about institutions and economic development. Not only is the historical picture re-examined, but Chang uses this to argue the need for a changing attitude to the institutions desired in today's developing nations. Both as historical reinterpretation and policy advocacy, Kicking Away the Ladder deserves a wide audience among economists, historians, and members of the policy establishment.[20]

Bad Samaritans[edit]

Following up on the ideas of Kicking Away the Ladder, Chang published Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism in December 2008.[21]

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism[edit]

Chang's next book, 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism, was released in 2011. It offers a twenty-three point rebuttal to aspects of neo-liberal capitalism. This includes assertions such as "Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer," "Companies should not be run in the interests of their owners," and "The washing machine has changed the world more than the internet has." This book questions the assumptions behind the dogma of neo-liberal capitalism and offers a vision of how we can shape capitalism to humane ends. This marks a broadening of Chang's focus from his previous books that were mainly critiques of neo-liberal capitalism as it related to developing countries. In this book, Chang begins to discuss the issues of the current neo-liberal system across all countries.

Economics: The User's Guide[edit]

Chang's 2014 book, Economics: The User's Guide, is an introduction to economics, written for the general public.[22]



  • The Political Economy of Industrial Policy (St. Martin's Press; 1994)
  • The Transformation of the Communist Economies: Against the Mainstream (Palgrave Macmillan; 1995) ISBN 978-0-33359-709-5
  • Financial Liberalization and the Asian Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan; 2001)
  • Joseph Stiglitz and the World Bank: The Rebel Within (collection of Stiglitz speeches) (Anthem; 2001) ISBN 978-1-89885-553-8
  • Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective (Anthem; 2002) ISBN 978-1-84331-027-3
  • Globalization, Economic Development, and the Role of the State (essay collection) (Zed Books; 2002) ISBN 978-1-84277-143-3
  • Restructuring Korea Inc. (with Jang-Sup Shin) (Routledge; 2003) ISBN 978-0-415-27865-2
  • Reclaiming Development: An Alternative Economic Policy Manual (with Ilene Grabel) (Zed; 2004) ISBN 978-1-84277-201-0
  • The Politics of Trade and Industrial Policy in Africa: Forced Consensus (edited with Charles Chukwuma Soludo & Osita Ogbu) (Africa World Press; 2004) ISBN 978-1592211654
  • Gae-Hyuck Ui Dut (The Reform Trap), Bookie, Seoul, 2004 (collection of essays in Korean)
  • Kwe-Do Nan-Ma Hankook-Kyungje (Cutting the Gordian Knot – An Analysis of the Korean Economy) Bookie, Seoul, 2005 (in Korean) (co-author: Seung-il Jeong) ISBN 978-89-85989-83-1
  • The East Asian Development Experience: The Miracle, the Crisis and the Future (Zed; 2007) ISBN 978-1-84277-141-9
  • Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism (Bloomsbury; 2008) ISBN 978-1-59691-598-5
  • 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism (Penguin Books Ltd; 2010) ISBN 978-1-60819-166-6
  • Economics: The User's Guide (Pelican Books; 2014) ISBN 978-0718197032
  • Edible Economics – A Hungry Economist Explains the World (Pelican Books; 2022) ISBN 9780241534649

Papers and articles[edit]

Personal life[edit]

He is the son of a former minister of industry and resources, Chang Jae-sik, brother of a historian and philosopher of science, Hasok Chang, and cousin of a prominent economist and professor at Korea University, Chang Ha-Seong. He lives in Cambridge with his wife, Hee-Jeong Kim, and two children, Yuna, and Jin-Gyu.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). African Development Bank Group. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Dr Ha-Joon Chang - Institute for Manufacturing (IfM)". www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 7 October 2023.
  3. ^ "Professor Ha-Joon Chang". SOAS. Retrieved 7 October 2023.
  4. ^ "Ha-Joon Chang's home page". University of Cambridge. 19 October 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  5. ^ "Article summarising 'Kicking Away the Ladder' book". Post-Autistic Economics Review. 14 September 2002. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  6. ^ "A paper by Chang summarising much of 'Kicking Away the Ladder'". Foreign Policy in Focus. April 2003. Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  7. ^ "World Thinkers 2013". Prospect Magazine.
  8. ^ Ha-Joon Chang (November 2005). "Why Developing Countries Need Tariffs? How WTO NAMA Negotiations Could Deny Developing Countries' Right To A Future" (PDF). Oxfam International/South Centre. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  9. ^ Ha-Joon Chang (July 2006). "Understanding the Relationship between Institutions and Economic Development: Some Key Theoretical Issues" (PDF). The World Institute for Development Economics Research/United Nations University. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  10. ^ "CEPR Senior Research Partners". Center for Economic and Policy Research. 19 October 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  11. ^ Bob Rowthorn (July–August 1974). "Neo-Classicism, Neo-Ricardianism and Marxism". New Left Review. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
  12. ^ Harwood, Jonathan (14 June 2013). "Development policy and history: lessons from the Green Revolution". History & Policy. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  13. ^ "GDAE Leontief".
  14. ^ Chang, Ha-Joon (1 April 2006). "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). University of Cambridge. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 May 2006. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  15. ^ "Blame Game", The Economist, March 24, 2011. Accessed on March 28, 2011 at: http://www.economist.com/node/18438065?story_id=18438065&CFID=166516108&CFTOKEN=23109871
  16. ^ Irwin, Douglas A., "Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective". April 2004. EH.net. Accessed on 19/08/18 at: https://eh.net/book_reviews/kicking-away-the-ladder-development-strategy-in-historical-perspective/
  17. ^ Chang, Ha-Joon (December 2011). "Reply to the comments on 'Institutions and Economic Development: Theory, Policy and History'". Journal of Institutional Economics. 7 (4): 595–613. doi:10.1017/S174413741100035X. ISSN 1744-1374.
  18. ^ Easterly, William (8 October 2009). "The Anarchy of Success". The New York Review of Books. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 November 2020. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  19. ^ Chang, Ha-Joon; Rossant, James; Easterly, William (19 November 2009). "The Anarchy of Success". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  20. ^ "Economía" (PDF). Universidad Católica del Uruguay.[not specific enough to verify]
  21. ^ Ha-Joon Chang (July 2007). "Protecting the global poor". Prospect. Archived from the original on 11 May 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2008.
  22. ^ "Interview: Ha-Joon Chang". Varsity. 19 February 2014.
  23. ^ "My Background | Ha-Joon Chang".

External links[edit]