The end of economic transition

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Abstract

The transition from plan to market was the largest natural experiment in economics ever. Now, 20 years from the start of transition, all former socialist countries are market economies at the middle stage of economic development, and convergence with neighbours, if not with the developed world, is largely achieved. With hindsight, it is clear that economists have spent too much time debating proper sequencing of reforms and the fine-tuning of reform packages. At the same time, the magnitude of the output and consumption fall in some countries was vastly underestimated, while the benefits of reforms have taken longer to materialize than expected. Successful practitioners of reform praise perseverance during and after the initial setbacks and willingness to make political compromises. At the conclusion of the natural experiment, transition economics has all but vanished as an academic discipline, although it played a crucial role in the formation of modern political economics.

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