No pain, no gain: market reform, unemployment, and politics in Bulgaria
In 1997, a new center-right government came to power in Bulgaria with a mandate to accelerate market reforms. By the time of the next elections in 2001, 75 percent of GDP was produced in the private sector, compared to 45 percent in 1996. The government however lost the elections. This paper uses unique survey data to examine whether the high unemployment associated with market reform contributed to the election outcome. High unemployment did have an effect but it was small and does not explain the election loss. In fact, many in the population, including the unemployed, believed that high unemployment was the necessary price for future prosperity.
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