Transitioning European Economies: Lessons from Poland and Bulgaria
The transition of Eastern European countries from planned to market economies brings attention to a number of sociopolitical factors that affect the success of economic transformation. This paper analyzes two diverging cases of transition towards a market economy. Poland, often considered a 'successful' transition, and Bulgaria, considered a lagging economy, provide representative examples of cases in which both economic, social, and political factors respectfully provided successful, and deteriorating consequences to economic development. The factors behind relative economic success/failure are studied, and several trends are listed. The divergence in outcomes between these two countries can be pinpointed to two major factors: (a) rapid liberalization, and (b) political and social will. The rapid liberalization undertaken by Poland, combined with positive sociopolitical circumstances, allowed for its success. Conversely, slow implementation of key policies, and relative political instability were setbacks to economic growth in Bulgaria. The evidence shows that the 'slow but steady' economic policy style faced both theoretical flaws and flaws in practice. It sides with a liberal understanding of economic transition when applied to changes from planned to market economies.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2017-12-01
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