Is Taiwan still the land of opportunities?


Cheap labour, comparatively little investment in R & D, lax “environmental” regulations…

Maybe, just maybe, the good old days were not quite as good as some believe.

And maybe, just maybe, we continue to pay the cost for this set of priorities (cost down, comparatively little investment in the future, environment be damned) in the present.



If there were no opportunities, we wouldn’t be here. But the “good old days” are called that for a reason. And they’re well in the rear-view mirror. So yes, there’s always opportunities. But you have to look a lot harder and be a lot luckier than you used to.


Korea’s economy took off due to the investment in their 1988 Olympics and their embrace of democracy after being ruled by dictatorships since the end of the Japanese occupation (It also took decades to recover from the Korean War). Both events helped them gain more acceptance and attention on the world stage. In the 70s, South Korea had a lower GDP than Afghanistan. South Korea didn’t even overtake North Korea’s GDP until the early 70s.
That said, Korea was also hit hard by the late 90s banking crisis and had to be bailed out by the IMF under strict conditions of restructuring. My Korean ex and her family lived in someone’s attic for a year after losing their home.
Nowadays, Korea is also getting hit by wage stagnation and a declining birth-rate. Good ESL jobs in Korea are also in short supply these days, just like Taiwan and Japan. I lived in Seoul for 6 years. They’re not in as great shape as you think they are.


Chaebols and South korea are not necessarily more successful than the Taiwanese model. South Korea has some serious problems now, chaebols kill new enterprises and hinder reform aimed at supporting them.
Taiwan had a higher exposure to China due to it’s relatively lower margin economy and higher cash outflow to China. Taiwan’s economy is actually doing real good for its gdp ppp per capita right now, but it did have serious problems from 2000 to 2015. The last 2-3 years might have been a fluke or it might be that we are finally done with the damages to lower margin companies.
Also living standards are higher in Taiwan than South Korea since everything is cheaper.


Just want to say. I expect more Taiwan companies to come back from China after CNY and they are already starting to. The tariffs are staying and Xi is clearly a loose cannon in regard to anything with Taiwan. Companies are going to start looking for new suppliers. Especially as the lure of the 1.3 billion person market has gone, considering we all know that its now mostly cut off for foreign companies. So a good opportunity for Taiwan


Lol it wasn’t. The 80s was also the period of emigration to Anglophone for Taiwanese ppl.

Land of opportunities my ass. How many foreigners back then would think ‘hey I heard Taiwan is full of jobs I’m moving there’? Probably like 12 crazies at most.

There are too many deluded people with rose-tinted view on the past. The truth is Taiwan has only been a land that’s trying to catch up and has some success on some fronts and failed miserably on some others.


I’m not talking about opportunities for foreigners. I’m talking about opportunities for local Taiwan citizens (such as myself). I lived thru it. If you don’t believe me, suit yourself. Were you working in Taiwan in the 80s?


For Taiwanese people that is also unvalid. Like I said people were moving to America en masse in those days. There are still a few women who try to give birth there nowadays but the number doesn’t hold a candle in relation to the 80s.


Well, you believe what you want. I was working for an SME in Taiwan in the 80s that was enjoying year after year of double digit profit growth. And I knew many other SMEs who were enjoying the same in Taiwan at that time. It drastically changed starting in the 1990s, when it went downhill.


Not really en masse:

There was an increase, to the US at least, but that would just be mainly down to it becoming possible to more people.


The emigration is hard statistics. It’s not about what I want to believe.


That’s because there aren’t that many Taiwanese ppl in the first place. By percentage it’s quite a lot, and those who moved there were mostly doctors and shit.


You are right, so right. And logical.


I think @gain is going to make a great lawyer. I see silk in his future.


I’m telling you about my first hand experience during a time which I guess you weren’t even born yet.

Yes, there were people who migrated from Taiwan in the 80s but that doesn’t mean Taiwan wasn’t enjoying an economic boom at the same time. If you want statistics, look at the GDP growth of Taiwan in the 1980s. Well over 10% per year for most of the years in that decade. GDP grew from US$42bln in 1980 to US$167bln in 1990, quadrupling in a decade. Or do you think GPD statistics are a big lie?


I think everyone agrees on that but do you prefer a 2000 USD per capita economy with 10% growth over a 30000 USD per capita economy with 2% growth? I wouldn’t call either the land of opportunities but I prefer the 2nd one.


Yes, I get your point. It depends on how you define “opportunity”. For example, many would argue China has offered massive economic opportunity to millions of people over the last 20 years. And yet, its GDP per capita even now is much much lower than developed countries such as USA.


@Gain wasn’t even alive in the 80s. I’ll take your actual lived experience over whatever uninformed hot take he has this time.


Back in 70s and 80s when America had extremely generous immigration policy, plenty of Taiwanese people moved there. There was even a saying "來來來來台大,去去去去美國“, are you even aware of that? Where do you think the 200k Taiwanese Americans in America come from?

Evidence (it’s Australia but it’s basically the same):

It’s easy to grow over 10% per year when you’re a total shithole. See: India and the Philippines today.


Did you live in Taiwan in the 1980s? I did, some things were bad (air pollution, traffic, etc) but I wouldn’t call it a total shit hole. Of course, that’s an opinion.

As for India, hundreds of thousands of people there (if not millions) have also entered into the middle class or above over the last 10-20 years. For them, it has been a land of great opportunity. Sort of like China but to a less of an extent. I guess you don’t think going from poor to middle class or above counts as ‘opportunity’.