Since the mid- 1970s, economic conditions have worsened all over the world. The industrialized capitalist nations, the former East European state socialist societies, and the less developed countries all faced inflation, unemployment, low growth, and income inequalities. Whereas the era from 1950 to the early 1970s represented the "golden age" for the industrialized capitalist countries, after 1973 growth rates declined, inflation escalated, and unemployment rose. Several nations, including the United States, Britain, and even Sweden, experienced a growing gap between rich and poor. Similarly, in East Europe after 1975, the growth rates fell. Inflation grew more severe. Policies that dismantled the state-administered economies brought higher prices and lower job security. The priority on wage differentials as a method to stimulate economic productivity caused greater income inequality. Low growth, high unemployment, severe inflation, and economic maldistribution have also plagued Latin America, Africa, and the Near East since the late 1970s. Only a few developing nations, mainly those in East Asia, managed to escape the economic crises linked to dependent capitalism.
Comparative Political Systems focuses on the economic changes produced by different political systems and the social impact of regime transformations. A political system comprises three analytical dimensions: sociopolitical structures, cultural values, and individual behaviors. This book probes the institutions, organizations, and groups shaping policy formulation and implementation. It examines how general values communicated by these structures become transformed into specific policy priorities, such as higher growth or greater income equality. Taking a behavioral perspective, the systems analyst investigates the actions of political leaders and the extent of political participation among the citizenry. Structure, culture, and behavior demonstrate a reciprocal interaction. The micropolitical aspects of the policy process highlight individual motives, perceptions, attitudes, and actions. Individuals operate structures, interpret cultural values, and thus can change these macropolitical dimensions. Instead of merely