This book starts from the premise that economic liberalization - reduced state interference in economic life - is the common element in the current trend towards privatization and deregulation in the West and economic reform and restructuring in the East. In popular parlance, "privatization" and "perestroika" are its watchwords, Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev its heralds. But the specific character of the liberalization will be determined by the social characteristics of different societies. In order to study the reform process in the two systems, it is necessary to dispose of a general conceptual framework capable of embracing both a (predominantly) market economy and a (predominantly) centrally planned economy. The key objective of this work is to provide such a unified framework, and on that basis to analyze the policy conflicts that dominated both systems in the 1980s and the prospects for further change in the years ahead.
This book seeks to contribute to the ongoing debate over the role of social policy in emerging markets and postcommunist transition economies, with a focus on Latin America, East Asia, and the former Soviet bloc. The authors argue that poverty reduction has not been the major objective of social policy in these countries, or even of the international financial institutions that are important providers of loans and advice to them. Instead, the main purpose of these programs has been to help smooth the consumption patterns of those formal soctor workers who feared that economic liberalization would reduce their incomes and job prospects.