The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper challenges the conventional wisdom that income inequality in Poland increased substantially following the economic transition in 1989-90. The results, based on micro data from the 1985-92 Household Budget Surveys, indicate that overall income inequality increased during the initial stages of the transition but then declined to pre-transition levels. Consumption distributions reveal a similar pattern. However, earnings inequality did increase markedly after the transition and the relative well-being of different socio-economic groups was altered. Absolute poverty levels increased during the transition, but this increase is attributable to declines in mean income and consumption rather than to changes in inequality.