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Creating Capitalism: Politics, Reforms, and Economic Performance

  • Frank Wykoff

    (Pomona College)

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    Building on a model that integrates reforms into exogenous and endogenous growth models, this paper designs an econometric model of the interplay between economic reform measures, political decisions and economic performance. Several key hypotheses about transition are tested using two-stage least squares on a logit model using data for six countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Russia and Slovakia) over their first ten years of freedom. We draw three conclusions from the empirical evidence. (1) Contrary to the litany that everyone favors reforms, we find that voting for strong reform parties leads to more reforms. (2) History matters, even in a model of forward looking rational agents. Where communism was relatively popular, Russia, Hungary and Bulgaria, reform is slower, more problematic, and aimed toward a welfare state not US-style capitalism. The cost of debunking communist ideology evidently slows progress considerably. (3) Better economic performance does not result quickly from reforms. From a public choice perspective the immediate identifiable social costs of reforms often appear stronger than the eventual diffuse benefits. Though not surprising this result does not auger well for reformers. Finally, critical macroeconomic data for the earlier years around the transition period are very poor quality. Indeed economic data seems to be too poor to reveal much about changing economic circumstance. Measured output may actually move in the opposite direction of realized output. International agencies could contribute greatly to analysis of transition by quickly and deeply engaging the local statistical agencies.

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    Paper provided by Claremont Colleges in its series Claremont Colleges Working Papers with number 2001-17.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:2001-17
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    1. Easterly, W & Levine, R, 1996. "Africa's Growth Tragedy : Policies and Ethnic Divisions," Papers 536, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
    2. Corbo, Vittorio & Fischer, Stanley, 1995. "Structural adjustment, stabilization and policy reform: Domestic and international finance," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 44, pages 2845-2924 Elsevier.
    3. Easterly, William & Fischer, Stanley, 1995. "The Soviet Economic Decline," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 9(3), pages 341-71, September.
    4. Rodrik, Dani, 1995. "The Dynamics of Political Support for Reform in Economies in Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 1115, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Ham, John C & Svejnar, Jan & Terrell, Katherine, 1998. "Unemployment and the Social Safety Net during Transitions to a Market Economy: Evidence from the Czech and Slovak Republics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1117-42, December.
    6. Adam Przeworski & Fernando Limongi, 1993. "Political Regimes and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 51-69, Summer.
    7. Murrell Peter & Wang Yijiang, 1993. "When Privatization Should Be Delayed: The Effect of Communist Legacies on Organizational and Institutional Reforms," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 385-406, June.
    8. Peter Murrell, 1995. "The Transition According to Cambridge, Mass," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 164-178, March.
    9. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "A Cross-Country Study of Growth, Saving, and Government," NBER Chapters, in: National Saving and Economic Performance, pages 271-304 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Milanovic, Branko, 1993. "Social costs of the transition to capitalism : Poland, 1990-91," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1165, The World Bank.
    11. Wolf, H.C., 1999. "Transition Strategies: Choices and Outcomes," Princeton Studies in International Economics 85, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
    12. Easton, Stephen T & Walker, Michael A, 1997. "Income, Growth, and Economic Freedom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 328-32, May.
    13. Andrzej Rapaczynski, 1996. "The Roles of the State and the Market in Establishing Property Rights," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 87-103, Spring.
    14. Boycko, Maxim & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1997. "Privatizing Russia," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522284, June.
    15. Roman Frydman & Cheryl Gray & Marek Hessel & Andrzej Rapaczynski, 1999. "When Does Privatization Work? The Impact Of Private Ownership On Corporate Performance In The Transition Economies," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1153-1191, November.
    16. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
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