Globalization, immigration, and Lewisian elastic labor in pre-World War II Southeast Asia

Gregg Huff, Giovanni Caggiano

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Between 1880 and 1939 Burma, Malaya, and Thailand received inflows of migrants from India and China comparable in size to European immigration in the New World. This article examines the forces that lay behind migration to Southeast Asia and asks if experience there bears out Lewis's unlimited labor supply hypothesis. We find that it does and, furthermore, that immigration created a highly integrated labor market stretching from South India to Southeastern China. Emigration from India and China and elastic labor supply are identified as important components of Asian globalization before the Second World War.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-68
Number of pages36
JournalThe Journal of Economic History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007

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