IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Government Distributional Concerns and Economic Policy During the Transition from Socialism


  • Gordon, Roger H
  • Li, David Daokui


Before the transition governments had strong distributional objectives, which they pursued mainly by direct controls over state enterprise wage rates and hiring decisions, yielding a highly compressed wage distribution. During the reform they maintained similar controls over state enterprises, but had to take into account competition from the new non-state sector that was mostly free from these controls. Based on these distributional considerations alone, we forecast: 1) an immediate and continuing decline in the skills of workers in the state sector as the most able workers leave; 2) higher productivity in the non-state sector, which consists of the most able workers; 3) accounting losses in the state sector, reflecting the transfer of tax revenue to finance payments to the unskilled previously financed within the firm; and 4) restructuring within the state sector to reduce the distortions to relative wage rates. These phenomena are broadly observed across all transition economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Gordon, Roger H & Li, David Daokui, 1997. "Government Distributional Concerns and Economic Policy During the Transition from Socialism," CEPR Discussion Papers 1662, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1662

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Henry Thompson, 1985. "Complementarity in a Simple General Equilibrium Production Model," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(3), pages 616-621, August.
    2. Anderson, James E & Neary, J Peter, 1994. "Measuring the Restrictiveness of Trade Policy," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(2), pages 151-169, May.
    3. Taylor, Alan M & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1994. "Capital Flows to the New World as an Intergenerational Transfer," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 348-371, April.
    4. Ronald Findlay, 1995. "Factor Proportions, Trade, and Growth," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061759, January.
    5. Schmitz, Andrew & Helmberger, Peter, 1970. "Factor Mobility and International Trade: The Case of Complementarity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(4), pages 761-767, September.
    6. J. Peter Neary, 1995. "Factor Mobility and International Trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(s1), pages 4-23, November.
    7. Anthony J. Venables, 1997. "Trade Liberalisation and Factor Mobility: An Overview," CEP Discussion Papers dp0352, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    8. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
    9. O'Rourke, Kevin H., 1997. "Measuring protection: a cautionary tale," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 169-183, June.
    10. Markusen, James R., 1983. "Factor movements and commodity trade as complements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3-4), pages 341-356, May.
    11. Corden, W Max & Neary, J Peter, 1982. "Booming Sector and De-Industrialisation in a Small Open Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 825-848, December.
    12. Grubert, Harry & Mutti, John, 1991. "Taxes, Tariffs and Transfer Pricing in Multinational Corporate Decision Making," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(2), pages 285-293, May.
    13. Ashley S. Timmer & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1996. "Racism, Xenophobia or Markets? The Political Economy of Immigration Policy Prior to the Thirties," NBER Working Papers 5867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Kemp, Murray C. & Ohyama, Michihiro, 1978. "On the sharing of trade gains by resource-poor and resource-rich countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 93-115, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Lee, Young, 1999. "Wages and Employment in China's SOEs, 1980-1994: Corporatization, Market Development, and Insider Forces," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 702-729, December.
    2. Maria Csanadi, 2009. "The metamorphosis of the communist party: from entity to system and from system towards an entity," IEHAS Discussion Papers 0904, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
    3. Maria Csanadi, 2001. "A Model Explaining Social and Political Change of Party-states Structural and Dynamic Background of Similarities and Differences in Reproduction, reforms, Collapse and Transformation," IEHAS Discussion Papers 0101, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
    4. John Litwack & Yingyi Qian, "undated". "Balanced or Unbalanced Development: Special Economic Zones as Catalysts for Transition," Working Papers 97044, Stanford University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    Economic Transition; Government In Transition; labour productivity in transition; policy during transition; Redistribution; Wage Structure;

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
    • P50 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1662. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.