“Thirty Years after the Fall of the Iron Curtain: Transition and Convergence”

The collapse of the centrally planned economies in Central and Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union and the profound reforms of the Chinese economy have changed the social, political and economic landscape of the world in a fundamental way. All of the former centrally planned economies embarked on a journey of transition and convergence towards developed market economies. It strikes us, therefore, as interesting to take stock of the transition and convergence processes that played out in a very heterogeneous fashion across the transition region.

How did the transition to economies where markets dominate develop and how heterogeneous was convergence, broadly understood, across the post-Communist space? Why after 30 years is the catching up process still not completed and why are there great differences between CEE and post-Soviet countries regarding integration into the world economy? How did systemic change proceed in these last three decades having in mind mainly labor markets, financial markets, institutions in general and a legal framework conducive to entrepreneurial activity? These are some of the questions that might help us understand better the achievements and the disappointments of post-transition societies and their governments. Additionally, challenges to globalization and the environment remain while new challenges to international economic and security institutions arise.

A comparative perspective is essential to understand how workers, firms and governments adjusted to the economic shocks that occurred during transition, challenges that remain and new challenges that lie ahead. A systemic approach provides essential perspective as individual economies had made varying degrees of progress in the transition process and will be differentially affected by challenges on the horizon.