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Different strategies of transition to a market economy : how do they work in practice?


  • Dabrowski, Marek


In 1989, the former communist countries embarked on a transition from centrally planned command economies to market economies (and from repressive dictatorships to Western-style democracies). In addressing the question,"What is the optimal strategy for this transformation?", the author revisits the controversy about how quickly and radically the new market rules and their components should be adopted in the former communist countries and discusses the economic and political problems associated with different strategies. Among his conclusions: 1) generally, the faster and more comprehensive the economic reform, the more chance there is to minimize its economic, social, and political costs, and to avoid chronic macroeconomic mismanagement. A more radical and disciplined path of transition is all the more important when initial conditions are less favorable and negative external shocks are greater. Only countries such as Hungary - which had made some progress in market-oriented reform before communism's collapse and which experienced less macroeconomic disequilibrium - could go more slowly; 2) political liberalization and democratization helps the economic transition succeed mainly because it helps weaken the political positions of the traditional communist oligraphy, which is interested mainly in rent-seeking; 3) unless stabilization and liberalization are achieved quickly, microeconomic restructuring cannot be expected to progress quickly, even if privatization does (as it has in Russia). Other aspects of the transition may take more time. For privatization to succeed, for example, a legal base and organizational infrastructure must be created. But even with privatization, a rapid transition is less risky for restructuring and for complex institutional reform than a slow transition; 4) there is no way to avoid a relatively large decline in output, especially of industrial production in the state sector; 5) granting concessions to, and bargaining with, various pressure groups does not produce the expected political results or increase social acceptance of reform; and 6) governments should not be afraid of"aiming too high"in embarking on a stabilization program or any other component of transformation. Most post-communist governments do the opposite: dilute the program so much it becomes ineffective.

Suggested Citation

  • Dabrowski, Marek, 1996. "Different strategies of transition to a market economy : how do they work in practice?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1579, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1579

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Philippe Aghion & Olivier J. Blanchard, 1994. "On the Speed of Transition in Central Europe," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1994, Volume 9, pages 283-330 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Aslund Anders, 1994. "Lessons of the First Four Years of Systemic Change in Eastern Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 22-38, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ichiro Iwasaki & Taku Suzuki, 2016. "Radicalism Versus Gradualism: An Analytical Survey Of The Transition Strategy Debate," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(4), pages 807-834, September.
    2. Denizer, Cevdet, 1997. "Stabilization, adjustment, and growth prospects in transition economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1855, The World Bank.
    3. Marek Dabrowski & Oleksandr Rohozynsky & Irina Sinitsina, 2004. "Post-Adaptation Growth Recovery in Poland and Russia - Similarities and Differences," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 0280, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
    4. de Melo, Martha & Denizer, Cevdet & Gelb, Alan, 1996. "From plan to market : patterns of transition," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1564, The World Bank.
    5. Marek Dabrowski & Artur Radziwill, 2007. "Regional vs. Global Public Goods: The Case of Post-Communist Transition," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 0336, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
    6. Ariane Tichit, 1998. "Reprise économique dans les pays post-communistes : application d'un modèle de durée," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 136(5), pages 73-92.
    7. Selim Inançli & Mustafa Akal, 2013. "Export and Import Products Groups’ Shares of Turkey with Cee Countries After Theirs Accessions to Eu and Before," Asian Economic and Financial Review, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 3(11), pages 1419-1438, November.
    8. Marek Dabrowski and Radzislawa Gortat, 2002. "Political and Economic Institutions, Growth and Poverty – Experience of Transition Countries," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-2002-02, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


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