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In 1971 Malaysia adopted the "New Economic Policy," an affirmative action program aimed at improving the relative economic status of the politically dominant but economically disadvantaged Malay community. NEP targets included the reduction of poverty and the "restructuring of society" to provide Malays with more attractive jobs and greater participation in the ownership and control of wealth. Although many analysts predicted that the rate of economic growth would fall, Malaysia achieved one of the world's highest growth rates in 1970–1990 while attaining most of its redistribution goals and maintaining domestic harmony. This experience contrasts sharply with a global pattern of social conflict and slow economic growth in ethnically heterogeneous countries. The book documents what happened under the New Economic Policy, analyzes the reasons for the success achieved, and discusses Malaysia's prospects, including the implications of the recent economic crisis.
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Donald R. Snodgrass is a Fellow of the Harvard Institute for International Development and a Lecturer on Economics.
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