When Is Transition over?

When Is Transition over?

When Is Transition over?

When Is Transition over?

Excerpt

The countries that are changing from communist to postcommunist societies are undergoing a process that has been and continues to be difficult, tumultuous, and often painful for their citizens. In a few short years, people in these countries have lived through more social, political, and economic change than those in more developed, Western economies will see in a lifetime. Both for those living through this process and for those who study and analyze it, there is a recurring question: When is this transition over?

During the 1997–1998 academic year, six distinguished economics scholars—Marie Lavigne, Alan Gelb, Anders Åslund, Nicholas Lardy, Jan Ævejnar, and János Kornai—visited Western Michigan University and offered their answers to this question. This book presents their lectures. Their answers are in some ways very different and in others very similar, but always interesting and insightful. In this introduction, I will introduce the speakers, their lectures, and their answers.

THE SPEAKERS

As Marie Lavigne correctly points out in her lecture, the determination of when transition is over will clearly be shaped by the biases of those who are judging, and so it is important to know who those judges are. The participating speakers vary along several meaningful axes. First, they come from different nations: Western and non-Western, transition and nontransition. Lavigne and Åslund are French and Swedish, respectively, giving them a Western European, and possibly even a European Union (EU), perspective. Ævejnar and Kornai both grew up under communism in Central Europe, Ævejnar in Czechoslovakia and Kornai in Hungary. However, the courses of their adult lives . . .

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