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Reform and Inequality during the Transition: An Analysis Using Panel Household Survey Data, 1990-2005


  • Milanovic, Branko

    () (The World Bank)

  • Ersado, Lire

    () (The World Bank)


Using for the first time household survey data from 26 post-Communist countries, covering the period 1990-2005, this paper examines correlates of unprecedented increases in inequality registered by most of the economies. The analysis shows, after controlling for country fixed effects and type of survey used, that economic reform is strongly negatively associated with the income share of the bottom decile, and positively with the income shares of the top two deciles. However, breaking economic reform into its component parts, the picture is more nuanced. Large-scale privatization and infrastructure reform (mostly consisting of privatization and higher fees) are responsible for the pro-inequality effect; small-scale privatization tends to raise the income shares of the bottom deciles. Acceleration in growth is also pro-rich. But democratization is strongly pro-poor, as is lower inflation. Somewhat surprisingly, the analysis finds no evidence that greater government spending as share of gross domestic income reduces inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Milanovic, Branko & Ersado, Lire, 2008. "Reform and Inequality during the Transition: An Analysis Using Panel Household Survey Data, 1990-2005," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4780, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4780

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mitra, Pradeep & Yemtsov, Ruslan, 2006. "Increasing inequality in transition economies : is there more to come?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4007, The World Bank.
    2. Branko Milanovic, 1999. "Explaining the increase in inequality during transition," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 7(2), pages 299-341, July.
    3. Dani Rodrik, 1999. "Democracies Pay Higher Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 707-738.
    4. By Ales BulÌr, 2001. "Income Inequality: Does Inflation Matter?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 48(1), pages 1-5.
    5. Sukiassyan, Grigor, 2007. "Inequality and growth: What does the transition economy data say?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 35-56, March.
    6. Michael P. Keane & Eswar S. Prasad, 2002. "Inequality, Transfers, And Growth: New Evidence From The Economic Transition In Poland," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 324-341, May.
    7. Milanovic, Branko, 2007. "Where in the world are you? Assessing the importance of circumstance and effort in a world of different mean country incomes and (almost) no migration," MPRA Paper 3420, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Li, Hongyi & Squire, Lyn & Zou, Heng-fu, 1998. "Explaining International and Intertemporal Variations in Income Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(446), pages 26-43, January.
    9. Francisco H. G. Ferreira, 1999. "Economic transition and the distributions of income and wealth," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 7(2), pages 377-410, July.
    10. Michele Giammatteo, 2006. "Inequality in Transition Countries: The Contributions of Markets and Government Taxes and Transfers," LIS Working papers 443, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    11. José Gabriel Palma, 2006. "Globalizing Inequality: ‘Centrifugal’ and ‘Centripetal’ Forces at Work," Working Papers 35, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
    12. Jens Hölscher, 2006. "Income Distribution and Convergence in the Transition Process – A Cross-Country Comparison," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 48(2), pages 302-325, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sergei Guriev & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2009. "(Un)happiness in Transition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 143-168, Spring.
    2. Bojana Radovanovic & Dragan Filimonovic, 2012. "Developments in the Available Inequality Indexes for the Western Balkan Countries: Trends in the last 10 Years," Book Chapters, Institute of Economic Sciences.
    3. Golinelli, Roberto & Rovelli, Riccardo, 2013. "Did growth and reforms increase citizens' support for the transition?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 112-137.
    4. Facundo Alvaredo & Leonardo Gasparini, 2013. "Recent Trends in Inequality and Poverty in Developing Countries," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0151, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    5. Riccardo Rovelli & Anzelika Zaiceva, 2013. "Did support for economic and political reforms increase during the post-communist transition, and if so, why?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 21(2), pages 193-240, April.
    6. Jirí Vecerník, 2010. "Earnings Disparities and Income Inequality in CEE Countries: An Analysis of Development and Relationships," LIS Working papers 540, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    7. R. Rovelli & A. Zaiceva, 2011. "Individual support for economic and political changes: Evidence from transition countries, 1991-2004," Working Papers wp736, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    8. Frederic Pryor, 2015. "A Note on Income Inequality in East Europe," LIS Working papers 643, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.

    More about this item


    Inequality; transition; economic policy;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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