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The virtues of gradualism and legitimacy in the transition to a market economy


  • Mathias Dewatripont
  • Gérard Roland


This paper presents a simplified model of sectoral restructuring in Eastern Europe. A move towards allocative efficiency is desired by the reform-minded government, but the shift to higher productivity which such efficiency requires would lead to massive layoffs and labour reallocation in the transition period. We look at the impact of political constraints (unanimity and/or majority worker approval) on reform proposals when the government faces a heterogeneous workforce, holding private information on relative outside opportunities. When the budgetary consequences of exit compensations are so important as to make partial reforms preferable to full reforms, gradualism emerges as the optimum in a dynamic context without government commitment. It is also shown that under democratic majority rule, a government in control of the agenda of reforms can win majority approval for plans which end up hurting majority interests intertemporally by threatening to switch majorities in future reform proposals.
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  • Mathias Dewatripont & Gérard Roland, 1992. "The virtues of gradualism and legitimacy in the transition to a market economy," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9587, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:ulb:ulbeco:2013/9587 Note: FLWNO

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-283.
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    4. Fehr, Ernst, 1990. "Cooperation, Harassment, and Involuntary Unemployment: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 624-630, June.
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    6. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
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    8. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1988. "Fairness and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 44-49, May.
    9. Carruth, Alan A & Oswald, Andrew J, 1987. "On Union Preferences and Labour Market Models: Insiders and Outsi ders," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(386), pages 431-445, June.
    10. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 1988. "Cooperation, Harassment, and Involuntary Unemployment: An Insider-Outsider Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 167-188, March.
    11. Ernst FEHR & Georg KIRCHSTEIGER & Arno RIEDL, 1993. "Gift Exchange and Ultimatum in Experimental Markets," Vienna Economics Papers vie9301, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    12. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-741, September.
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