Labour regulations in China and India: Economic Freedom in Relief

This is a stunning statistic:

…the annual expansion in China’s trade has been larger than India’s total annual trade during last several years.

Tyler Cowen hones in on this point, amongst a bounty of good points:

The most important factor that still holds back large [Indian] firms from entering these products is a set of draconian labour laws in India. Under these laws, it is virtually impossible for a firm with 100 or more employees to fire the workers even in the face of bankruptcy. It is equally difficult for the firms to reassign the workers from one task to another. These provisions impose very low worker productivity or a high real cost of labour. Large-scale capital-intensive sectors such as automobiles, where labour costs are a tiny proportion of the total costs, can profitably operate in such an environment. But the same is not true of large-scale labour-intensive sectors labour. Few foreign manufacturers are willing to enter India outside of a small subset of capital- and skilled-labour intensive sectors.

These kinds of rules damage economies around the world, but countries with the enormous poverty present in India are the least able to afford the luxury of such self inflicted wounds. Which goes to the point of the first chapter of the latest Index of Economic Freedom report.

Economic Fluidity: A Crucial Dimension of Economic Freedom

This essay argues that whether the economic infrastructure is “successful” or “perverse” and whether the “reward structure” is conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship rests on the degree of economic fluidity. Without constant mixing across boundaries, without the creation and testing of ideas, and without learning and adaptation, the specific character of the institutional structure matters little. Fluidity determines whether or not the structure will be successful in facilitating growth.

It isn’t capital, natural resources or education, it is the opportunity for all of those things to be deployed and redeployed. Entrepreneurial activity.

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