More Growth, Less Freedom? Charting Development Pathways in Lao PDR

  • Kearrin Sims
Part of the Security, Development and Human Rights in East Asia book series (SDHRP)


According to macro-scale measures and indicators the principal development narrative for Lao PDR is one of strong economic growth and continued socio-economic progress. However, the true complexity of socio-economic transformations to have occurred in the country are not easily captured by reductive macro-scale indices. In this chapter I problematize development success narratives surrounding Lao PDR by bringing attention to the relationship between persistent socio-economic challenges and the state’s poor track record on human rights and political freedoms. Here, I argue: (1) that privileging economic growth over political freedom is a threat to sustained poverty-alleviation; (2) the common myth that economic liberalization naturally leads to democratic reform is unlikely to materialize in Lao PDR, and; (3) attempts by foreign donors to depoliticize socio-economic inequalities have bolstered a regime that is responsible for intolerable human rights abuses.


Laos PDR Human rights Authoritarianism Sombath somphone 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kearrin Sims
    • 1
  1. 1.James Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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