The Economic History of Eastern Europe, 1919-1975 - Vol. 1

By M. C. Kaser; E. A. Radice | Go to book overview

Introduction

M. C. KASER


THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PERIOD

This History encompasses the period between the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, and the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference in 1975: each ratified east Europe's frontiers as they were redrawn at the end of a World War. Before the First War, most of east Europe was divided between great empires--Russian, German, Austrian or Turkish; the minor agrarian nations of the Balkans--Bulgaria, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia--made up the rest. After that War, all but one (the German Democratic Republic) of the eight countries of present-day east Europe were established in something like their present geographical area and accorded the opportunity for autonomous economic development. Their dependence then on the major capitalist Powers and their isolation from the neighbouring Soviet Union were violently reversed at the end of the Second War to dependence on the Soviet Union and an isolation from the West so strictly enforced that the border was termed the 'Iron Curtain'. A process of detente soon began, and culminated in the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Whereas, furthermore, the uniform acceptance of the Soviet model of central planning was true enough of 1949, the ensuing quarter-century saw a diversification of mechanisms which it is part of the task of this History to document.

Its function also is to chart the transformation of the region into industrialized and predominantly urban states. In 1920 65 per cent of the region's population of active age were occupied in agriculture,1 many under conditions that could justifiably be categorized as feudal. The share of the total population of 81 millions whose income was derived from wages (other than as farm labourers)--a group that in marxian terms would be the 'industrial prolatariat'--was of the order of 14 per cent.2 In 1980, a population of 118 millions was almost 60 per cent dependent on wage earning and a further 24 per cent were remunerated

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1
I. Svennilson, Growth and Stagnation in the European Economy, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Geneva, 1954, Table A.6 (data for 1920). Albania added from Vjetari statistikor i RPSh, 1964, p. 61 ( 1923 population extrapolated to 1920 and wage earners estimated from urban population).
2
Very approximate estimates based on I. T. Berend and Gy. Ránki, East-Central Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Budapest, 1977, pp. 102-24.

-1-

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The Economic History of Eastern Europe, 1919-1975 - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Economic History of Eastern Europe 1919-75 ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Maps and Figures vi
  • Contributors to Volumes I and II vii
  • Notes xi
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 General Characteristics of the Region Between the Wars 23
  • Chapter 2 Human Resources 66
  • Chapter 3 Agriculture 148
  • Chapter 4 Raw Materials and Energy 210
  • Chapter 5 Industry 222
  • Chapter 6 Infrastructure 323
  • Chapter 7 Foreign Trade Performance and Policy 379
  • Chapter 8 National Income and Product 532
  • Index 599
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