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Wage and pension pressure on the Polish budget


  • de Crombrugghe, Alain


After Poland's remarkable stabilization and liberalization in 1990, the economy faced three related problems: high wage and pension claims, a rising number of pensioners and unemployed workers, and a budget crisis, especially in 1991 and 1992. The author studies the role that wage and pension pressures played in this crisis. He also explains the persistence of the high tax wedge that later helped overcome the budget crisis. The positive effect on revenues of higher wages and higher tax rates could not compensate for both the inevitable loss in profit taxes and the excessive growth of spending on replacement income. Counterfactuals constructed for revenue and spending show the rising number of social benefit earners (pensions, unemployment) to be responsible for much of the budgetary burden. But they also show that the better protection of social income (over other income) explains part of the burden. Part of the employment loss and social spending can be ascribed to the excessive wage recovery of late 1990 and 1991. Insiders set wages ignoring the unemployed and exploiting the pension system in a context of uncertainty about profits and productivity, at a time when there was strong popular support for the protection of replacement income. The author recommends pension reform and caution about wages: the current economic recovery should create jobs, not raise wages, he says; and ensuring equitable opportunities for all requires moderating the income claims of the best-protected groups.

Suggested Citation

  • de Crombrugghe, Alain, 1997. "Wage and pension pressure on the Polish budget," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1793, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1793

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Xavier Maret & Gerd Schwartz, 1993. "Poland; The Social Safety Net During the Transition," IMF Working Papers 93/42, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Luca Barbone & Domenico Marchetti, 1995. "Transition and the fiscal crisis in Central Europe," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 3(1), pages 59-74, March.
    3. Newbery, David M G, 1995. "Tax and Benefit Reform in Central and Eastern Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 1167, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Coricelli, F. & Revenga, A., 1992. "Wage Policy During the Transition to a Market Economy: Poland 1990-91," World Bank - Discussion Papers _71, World Bank.
    5. Grootaert, Christiaan, 1995. "Poverty and social transfers in Poland," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1440, The World Bank.
    6. Fox, Louise, 1994. "Old age security in transitional economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1257, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jacqueline Mazza, 2000. "Unemployment Insurance: Case Studies and Lessons for Latin America and the Caribbean," Research Department Publications 4192, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    2. Jacqueline Mazza, 2000. "Seguro de desempleo: estudios de casos individuales y enseñanzas para América Latina y el Caribe," Research Department Publications 4193, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.

    More about this item


    Banks&Banking Reform; Environmental Economics&Policies; Economic Theory&Research; Municipal Financial Management; Labor Policies; Environmental Economics&Policies; Banks&Banking Reform; Public Sector Economics&Finance; Municipal Financial Management; Economic Theory&Research;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General


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