Labor Markets and Social Policy in Central and Eastern Europe: The Transition and Beyond

Article excerpt

Labor Markets and Social Policy in Central and Eastern Europe: The Transition and Beyond, edited by Nicholas Barr. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Pp. 387. $19.95 (softcover).

With the fall of communist governments in 1992, reform swept across Central and Eastern Europe. As these countries begin to develop their economic, political, and social infrastructures, many are discussing the best methods with which to launch them into the twenty-first century. Labor Markets and Social Policy in Central and Eastern Europe makes three primary arguments. First, the contributors argue that it is essential that these countries develop their human resources to their full potential through more effective labor markets, improved education, and reduced poverty. To accomplish this goal, the authors assert that the state must continue to play an important role in these countries' development. Finally, it is argued that reformers must consider the political and administrative realities of their developing countries or risk failure when new policies are designed and implemented.

The first argument put forward is for the necessity of empowering individual citizens in these countries so that they can meaningfully contribute to their country's development. To accomplish this goal, countries must improve their citizens' technical knowledge and job skills so that labor markets throughout Europe will continue to grow. The authors first consider, in analyzing these developing labor markets, the old communist systems inherited by these countries. In assessing the countries' inheritances, the authors discuss the differences between communist values and those of the West. The legacy of the communist ideology plays an important role in the developing economies, as they have over seventy years of Marxist-Leninist history. One of the stamps this legacy has left is the preference for plan-based development. This strategy of planning has been influential, as growth development has been charted out to lead the region into the next century. …

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