The Political Economy of Transition: Coming to Grips with History and Methodology

By Jozef M.Van Brabant | Go to book overview

Part III


TOWARD SUSTAINABLE GROWTH AND GLOBAL INTEGRATION

The following three chapters examine several external dimensions of the transformation leading up to a consideration of the sustainability of the gains booked to date, of accessing a modernization path, and of staying on it for some period of time. These elaborations complement in particular the discussion of Chapter 5. They can be located around international assistance for transition policies, fuller merger into the global economic framework through multilateral organizations, working toward meeting the requirements of EU entry and elaborating a constructive relationship with the EU, and how all of this plus the transformation agenda itself is shaping up with respect to the sustainability of the transformation under way so that “modernization with catch-up” can be assured.

Economic progress as such deserves to be applauded and gains in material welfare are important, including for the electorate. But those benefits attained in some countries do not yet signal sustainability and modernization even for the economy the most advanced with its transformation. I maintain this in spite of the widely held expectation that all transition economies will before long emerge from their protracted depression, thus perhaps mutually reinforcing recovery impulses. Neither can sustainability be equated with reaching positive growth of a few points above the “normal” pace for mature economies. Indeed, the material achievements recorded should at least be contrasted with the protracted societal depression, including the steep decline in the economic and social fortunes, of these countries over the past decade, and longer in some cases. Rather, the current progress booked or expected to materialize soon is significant for completing the intermediate stages of political pluralism and market-based resource allocation. The ultimate aim of the annus mirabilis in most countries revolves around broader societal renewal than just expanding economic wealth: These countries want to emulate key features of wealth, productivity, and incomes held to be “normal” for a mature market economy.

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