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Understanding Communist Transition: Property Rights in Ho Chi Minh City in the Late 1990s


  • Martin Gainsborough


In the absence of secure private property rights, neo-classical political economy would have expected China and Vietnam to perform badly. However, both economies have recorded rapid growth in recent decades. This article attempts to explain this through an analysis of the property rights regime in state enterprises in Vietnam's second city and commercial centre, Ho Chi Minh City. It argues that by the late 1990s the property regime in many firms in the city had evolved so far that they had been effectively privatised. Enforcement of these private property rights rested not on the rule of law but on the ability of a company's real owners to resist outside encroachment. This in turn had to do with the relative strength of clientelist interests located at different levels of the party-state. Although not perfect, property rights were on this basis sufficiently clear and enforceable for economic growth to occur. The argument is illustrated with two case studies which offer rich insights into the real nature of property under a reforming state socialist regime.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Gainsborough, 2002. "Understanding Communist Transition: Property Rights in Ho Chi Minh City in the Late 1990s," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(2), pages 227-243.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:pocoec:v:14:y:2002:i:2:p:227-243
    DOI: 10.1080/14631370220139936

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    Cited by:

    1. Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Daniere, Amrita G. & Takahashi, Lois M., 2004. "Cooperation, trust, and social capital in Southeast Asian urban slums," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 533-551, December.
    2. Kim, Annette M., 2007. "North versus South: The Impact of Social Norms in the Market Pricing of Private Property Rights in Vietnam," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 2079-2095, December.

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