Income Distribution, Economic Systems and Transition
Publication date: 70
Innocenti Occasional Papers, Economic Policy Series
No. of pages: 100
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The differences in income distribution between market and planned economies are considered in two ways. First, using benchmarks from the OECD area, evidence from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union during the socialist period is reviewed. Second, the authors consider the transitions currently being made by the latter countries. Three factors are then considered: (i) the distribution of earnings of full-time employees, (ii) the distribution of individuals’ per capita household incomes, and (iii) the ways in which non-wage benefits from work, price subsidies and social incomes in kind change the picture. For the socialist period long series of data, often covering several decades, are available and thus changes in distribution under the socialist system can be tracked and diversity between the countries shown. For the period of transition, the series of data are inevitably shorter, however, it is possible to avoid basing conclusions on evidence drawn from single years. During transition, as under socialism, the picture is varied. Russia has experienced very sharp increases in measured inequality to well above the top of the OECD range. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have seen more modest rises. However, a satisfactory analytic framework encompassing enough features of the transition to help interpretation of the data is lacking.