Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Lynn A. Wilson


The middle-income trap (MIT) refers to the state that middle-income economies have found it challenging to upgrade to reach the high-income stage over an extended period. Overcoming the MIT has long been discussed as an important social issue, notably in Southeast Asia. One major problem in addressing the MIT is directly linked to fewer job opportunities and an unstable income. Promoting industrialization has been the most efficient way to solve the problem. However, little previous research has been conducted on the influence of the enrollment rate in secondary education on the MIT and the international competitive index (ICI) in connection with the barrier issue of industrialization. Tran’s economic development stage model and the industrial development model were used to examine the predictive relationships between the economic development stage and education levels. Using secondary data compiled between 1999 and 2018 primarily from the World Development Indicators and the UN Comtrade Database, and multiple linear regression modeling, the strength of secondary education predicting the percentage change in R2 variance in the MIT and ICI was evaluated in nine Asian economies. Using log transformed data, secondary education alone was not found to be a superior predictor (F [1, 168] = .124, p = .725) for the MIT and (F [1, 175] = .147, p = .702) for the ICI respectively. Tertiary education was found to be a significant predictor in both models (F [1, 168] = 43.09, p = .000) and (F [1, 175] = 7.12, p = .008) respectively and is thus a major factor in escaping the MIT and upgrading the ICI. Positive social change emanates through continued policy support of advancing education as a means to escape the MIT and to promote advancements of the ICI.