Asia-Africa Development Divergence

A Question of Intent

David Henley


A comparative study in development performance between South-East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Why have South-East Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam been so successful in reducing levels of absolute poverty, while in African countries like Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, despite recent economic growth, most people are still almost as poor as they were half a century ago?

This book presents a simple, radical explanation for the great divergence in development performance between Asia and Africa: the absence in most parts of Africa, and the presence in Asia, of serious developmental intent on the part of national political leaders.

Author Bio

David Henley is professor of Contemporary Indonesia Studies at Leiden University. From 2006 to 2012 he was a coordinator of Tracking Development, an international research project designed to compare Asian and African development trajectories with a view to identifying practical policy lessons for development and development cooperation in Africa.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • 1. Diverging Paths
  • 2. Studying the Divergence
  • 3. Setting the Stage for Development
  • 4. Agrarian Roots of Development Success
  • 5. Varieties of Rural Bias
  • 6. Elements of the Developmental Mindset
  • 7. Origins of the Divergence


'This book addresses one of the top global issues of our time. It does so eloquently, with impeccable logic and drawing on a rich body of comparative evidence. It deserves to be carefully read and widely discussed.'
David Booth, co-author of Governance for Development in Africa

'A brilliant synthesis of why countries in South-East Asia have become much more prosperous over the last half century, whereas countries in sub-Saharan Africa have not. From the first page to the last, Asia-Africa Development Divergence provides fascinating reading.'
Roel van der Veen, author of What Went Wrong With Africa

'Thoughtful and balanced. This book will have wide resonance for those interested in the fortunes of these regions and the broad theoretical understanding of development.'
Peter Lewis, Johns Hopkins University

‘Henley makes an undeniably compelling case with his congruent and rational argument for the primacy of rural and pro-poor development, its precedence over industrialization, and ultimately, its instrumentalism in sustaining economic growth in Southeast Asia … an accessible read for a wide audience ranging from students of development studies to industry practitioners.’
Journal of Southeast Asian Economies

'This is an insightful book comparing the development trajectories of Indonesia and Nigeria, Malaysia and Kenya, and Vietnam and Tanzania … a solid, pragmatic, readable piece of work.'
Population and Development Review


Publication Date: 12 February 2015
264 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783602773
Hardback: 9781783602780
eBook ePub: 9781783602803
eBook PDF: 9781783602797
eBook Kindle: 9781783602810

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