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International Monetary Fund

This paper discusses Bulgaria’s prospects for converging to the living standards of the more advanced members of the European Union (EU). The unfavorable economic environment of the early 1990s and the economic crisis in 1996–97 hurt Bulgaria’s output, employment, and investment. Following the crisis, structural reforms and a sound macroeconomic framework set the stage for a sustained recovery. The structure of the Bulgaria economy has shifted markedly over the last decade, and investment has become the main engine of growth.

Mr. Philippe Egoume Bossogo, Mr. Jerald A Schiff, Ms. Miho Ihara, Mr. Tetsuya Konuki, and Ms. Kornelia Krajnyak

Abstract

More than a decade after the start of the transition process, unemployment rates remain in the double digits in a number of Central and Eastern European countries. That unemployment rates have failed to decline, even in countries experiencing good growth, is puzzling. In this paper the authors examine three interrelated questions: How has the transition from central planning to market economies affected labor market performance? How have labor market institutions and policies influenced developments? Why have regional differences in unemployment persisted? The authors take an eclectic methodological approach: construction of a new data set and a simple analytical model; econometric estimation; and case studies. They find that faster-performing countries have better unemployment records; that labor market policies have some, but not dominant, influence over labor market outcomes; that policies not typically viewed as labor market policies can nevertheless significantly affect labor markets; and that market processes cannot be relied on to eliminate regional differences in unemployment.

Ms. Ratna Sahay, Mr. Carlos A. Végh Gramont, and Mr. Stanley Fischer
The current destination of Central and Eastern European countries—explicitly for some, implicitly for all—is Brussels. The concept of the distance from Brussels is multi-dimensional. One simple measure, not without theoretical and empirical justification, is physical distance. This paper’s focus, however, lies more in the distances in time and economic space. The paper first compares income gaps between Central and Eastern European and European Union (EU) countries, then evaluates recent economic performance in Central and Eastern Europe in light of EU standards. Finally; addresses the question of how long it will take the Central and Eastern European countries to close the income gap with EU countries.
Mr. Philippe Egoume Bossogo, Mr. Jerald A Schiff, Ms. Miho Ihara, Mr. Tetsuya Konuki, and Ms. Kornelia Krajnyak

Abstract

More than a decade after the start of transition, the unemployment rate remains in double digits in a number of Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. After a period of gradual decline, unemployment has actually increased recently in several transition economies. In addition, in a number of these countries, long-term unemployment rates are high, and regional variations in unemployment large.

Mr. Philippe Egoume Bossogo, Mr. Jerald A Schiff, Ms. Miho Ihara, Mr. Tetsuya Konuki, and Ms. Kornelia Krajnyak

Abstract

Transition economies all experienced an initial sharp contraction in output. According to official data, output declined sharply over the period 1988–93, and pretransition levels of GDP were typically not achieved again for many years. In some cases, they had still not been reached by 2002 (Table 2.1). The size of the initial shock varied significantly across countries depending, in part, on the extent of pretransition linkages with the Soviet Union. There were, in addition, dramatic structural changes in these economies, reflected in part by the rapid growth of the share in output accounted for by the private sector and, within that, the services sector.

Mr. Philippe Egoume Bossogo, Mr. Jerald A Schiff, Ms. Miho Ihara, Mr. Tetsuya Konuki, and Ms. Kornelia Krajnyak

Abstract

After a review of the main stylized facts, this section undertakes a systematic quantitative analysis of transition countries’ labor market experience to help draw policy conclusions.

Mr. Philippe Egoume Bossogo, Mr. Jerald A Schiff, Ms. Miho Ihara, Mr. Tetsuya Konuki, and Ms. Kornelia Krajnyak

Abstract

Labor market performance not only varies across transition countries, but also across regions within a country, and such regional differences are substantial.

Mr. Philippe Egoume Bossogo, Mr. Jerald A Schiff, Ms. Miho Ihara, Mr. Tetsuya Konuki, and Ms. Kornelia Krajnyak

Abstract

This paper has sought to describe and explain labor market performance during transition in CEE countries. Among our key findings are: