Emerging Europe has undergone a major economic transformation over the past 25 years. Most countries experienced initial drops in output during transition, followed by recovery in the second half of the 1990s. The path of transition in the Western Balkans has however been particularly uneven. The effects of transition also seem to have been more traumatic and persistent in the Western Balkans, and nostalgia for the past appears to be more prevalent here than in other former communist regions. Such dissatisfaction has important implications for the political economy of further reforms. This paper aims to inform policy by complementing the analysis of standard macro-level measures of inequality and poverty with a household-level analysis of subjective perceptions of poverty. We find that many more people appear to feel poor than are classified as such using purely income-based measures. Uncertainty, in particular related to expectations of future income and vulnerability to shocks, appears to be a key driver behind this discrepancy.
The first analysis focuses on external stability, an important issue in view of Croatia’s external imbalances and the requirements of the IMF’s 2007 Decision on Bilateral Surveillance. The paper shows that the real exchange rate is broadly in line with economic fundamentals and that external debt dynamics are sustainable as long as macroeconomic policies remain strong. The second analysis finds significant inefficiencies in Croatia’s social spending. It also discusses several reform measures to reduce inefficiencies in public spending and generate budgetary savings to reduce the general government deficit.
This paper assesses the relative efficiency of government spending on health care and education in Croatia by using the so-called Data Envelopment Analysis. The analysis finds evidence of significant inefficiencies in Croatia's spending on health care and education, related to inadequate cost recovery, weaknesses in the financing mechanisms and institutional arrangements, weak competition in the provision of these services, and weaknesses in targeting public subsidies on health care and education. These inefficiencies suggest that government spending on health and education could be reduced without undue sacrifices in the quality of these services. The paper identifies ways to do that.
The speeches made by officials attending the IMF–World Bank Annual Meetings are published in this volume, along with the press communiqués issued by the International Monetary and Financial Committee and the Development Committee at the conclusion of the meetings.