Poverty in Transition and Transition in Poverty: Recent Developments in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Russia, Mongolia

By Yogesh Atal | Go to book overview

salary claims -- hence the emphasis in their negotiations on the minimum wage. The nongovernmental sector concentrates on poor children, trying to alleviate their poverty through support in cash or in kind. The advocacy activities meant to enhance the political rights of the poor have had no significant results so far. Of course, there is no countermovement or antagonism against the poor. If there is any, it is against those individuals or groups that are not "genuinely" poor and are suspected of abusing the social welfare system.

The findings made available by opinion polls give some indication of the relationship between political orientation and self-perceived living standard. It is noticeable that those saying that their income is "not sufficient for meeting the bare necessities" tend to be either politically indecisive (37.5 percent) or supportive of the left-oriented parties -- like the party in power until 1996 -- (32.9 percent), rather than voting for the rightist parties (the present governing coalition). Although less pronounced, this trend is also present among persons perceiving themselves as having an income which is "strictly sufficient for the bare necessities" ( CURS 1995). A regional analysis of voting behavior confirms this political orientation. Electoral support for the former president (a candidate supported by left-oriented parties) was very pronounced in the districts ranking lowest on the Human Development Index (HDI).


Conclusion

Romania had a comparatively late start in the reform process and hesitantly pursued the decisive steps needed for privatization and marketization. The continuous postponement of structural changes has not prevented any of the alleged "evils" generally associated with "shock therapy": hyperinflation, unemployment, the increased vulnerability of weaker social groups, and an overall deterioration of living standards. The absence of coherent macroeconomic adjustments left room for illegal privatization and created a favorable context for the expansion of the informal economy. Despite the official position that the consequences of unreported economic activities are entirely negative and, therefore, need to be restricted, some public statements made by the authorities have suggested that the informal economy is an unwanted but real supplement to, or replacement of, unemployment benefits.

The deteriorating condition of the public services and the low level of benefits are generally associated with poor economic performance. There is no doubt that the modest value of the GDP in recent years, and the moderate prospects for economic growth, do not allow Romania to spend much on social provisions. The structure of public expenditure

-126-

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Poverty in Transition and Transition in Poverty: Recent Developments in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Russia, Mongolia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Bibliography 31
  • Chapter One - Recent Trends in Poverty in Hungary 32
  • Bibliography 75
  • Chapter Two - Emerging Poverty in Bulgaria 77
  • Bibliography 100
  • Chapter Three - Poverty in Romania 102
  • Conclusion 126
  • Bibliography 128
  • Chapter Four - Toward Poverty Eradication in Georgia 130
  • Appendix 172
  • Bibliography 175
  • Acknowledgment 176
  • Chapter Five - The Russian Case Social Policy Concerns 177
  • Bibliography 220
  • Chapter Six - Mongolia in the Grip of Poverty 223
  • Conclusion 253
  • Bibliography 255
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