Institutional change and human development in transition economies
Transition economies (i.e. Central Eastern Europe Countries and Former Soviet Union Republics) have undergone an enormous transformation since 1989-1991. After the recession of the early 1990’s, some of these economies experienced a GDP recovery, at a different pace, with different outcomes in terms of economic growth and social performance (i.e. human development, employment, poverty, etc). The aim of this paper is to answer the following research question: was human development concurrent with economic growth during transition towards the market economy? I claim that economic growth is not always concurrent with human development: economic growth can contribute to increase the level of human development, but is not “the means” to human development. The income is not the final aim. On the contrary, the final aim is the well-being of individuals and the human development. Human development is considered to be a process which allows for an environment where people enjoy long, healthy and creative lives (as defined by the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP). Using an OLS model, human development variables were correlated with GDP per capita. I found out that, in transition economies, investing in human development is a sufficient, yet not a necessary condition for economic growth. GDP growth, then, requires human development. In this context institutions and institutional policies are crucial for a development process. In fact, for better distribution and access to resources as well as for social cohesion, well-designed institutions are needed.
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