Black Sea and Central Asia

Black Sea and Central Asia

Promoting Work and Well-Being You do not have access to this content

OECD Development Centre

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11 June 2008
9789264047303 (PDF) ;9789264047297(print)

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This book analyses the opportunities and conditions of employment throughout the Black Sea region and Central Asia. It examines how different countries deal with social issues affecting well-being. It presents, thus, both a country-based view and a whole-region analysis that will be useful for policy makers and civil society in responding to the challenges ahead. Countries covered include Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
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  • Introduction
    The Black Sea and Central Asia Economic Outlook provides an overview of recent economic developments in the 17 countries in the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and in Central Asia (CA). The 12 BSEC countries include Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine; the five Central Asian countries are Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The BSEC-CA countries form a region that is connected geographically; its central location in the Eurasian landmass makes it a pivotal region in terms of economics and geopolitics. Yet there is no single source that brings together data and analysis of the region on a regular basis. This regional Outlook seeks to fill this gap.
  • Recent Economic Development in the Black Sea and Central Asia Regions
    The economies of the BSEC-CA region, and especially the 11 that were republics of the former Soviet Union, have experienced rapid growth in the first years of the 21st century. This is in welcome contrast to the 1990s, when the formerly centrally planned economies of Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) underperformed in most regions of the world, experiencing an output collapse that far exceeded expectations. During the period 2001-06, the simple average growth rate of the 11 CIS countries was around 8 per cent per year, which compares favourably even with the high performing Asian economies. Part of this impressive performance is recovery from a deep trough, and some countries have benefited from large terms of trade gains, but it also reflects substantial improvement in macroeconomic policies.
  • Macroeconomic Performance and External Position
    In recognition of the heterogeneity of the BSEC-CA countries, the macroeconomic survey considers them in three groups. The Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation is divided into low- and lower-middle income (LLM) countries (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) and upper-middle- and high-income (UMH) countries (Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Turkey). The third group consists of the Central Asian (CA) countries (Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). For each group, basic demographic data, key macroeconomic variables, fiscal and monetary indicators and data on the external position are presented.
  • Integration into the Global Economy
    Table 2.1 shows the bilateral trade flows (exports plus imports) among the BSEC-CA countries in the period 2001-06 as a share of each country’s total trade. The focus of the following trade flow analysis is on trade among the BSEC-CA countries, but mention is also made of trade with the European Union, China and the developing world. For most of the BSEC-CA countries, the European Union is the main trade partner, and for the six non-CIS countries, the European Union accounts for over half of all trade. Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia mostly export to and import from developing countries; the reverse is true of Albania and Serbia.
  • Work and Well-being: Policy Challenges in the Global Environment
    Despite sustained economic growth, in some cases among the highest in the world in recent years, the BSEC-CA region suffers from a pervasive malaise. Part II of this Economic Outlook analyses the links between the reformed economies’ integration into the global economy and their ability to generate work and promote well-being. The focus is on the former centrally planned economies, with Turkey, Greece and other OECD countries providing a basis for comparison.
  • Work and Well-being: The Observed Outcomes
    The end of central planning was widely welcomed in Eastern Europe and, to a lesser extent, in the Soviet Union where it became entwined with the dissolution of the Union. A common expectation was that, after a brief transition, the economies would provide the higher living standards evident in Western Europe and parts of East and Southeast Asia. In practice, the optimism was misplaced as, unlike the experience of China and Viet Nam, which had experienced enhanced growth after their reforms of 1978-79 and 1986, the European and CIS transition economies experienced a sharp recession. The proximate cause was the decline of output from existing enterprises and the slow process of job creation in restructured and new enterprises.
  • Labour Market Outcomes and the Global Policy Environment
    The previous chapter looked at some of the structural changes that have affected work and well-being negatively in the BSEC-CA countries since the transition from centrally planned to market-based economies. This chapter considers why this happened. The proximate cause is the temporal gap between job destruction and job creation during the transition from central planning, a process which took far longer than many anticipated at the start of the 1990s. Job destruction and creation during the transitional recession are analysed in the first section of this chapter.
  • Households' Responses and Coping Mechanisms
    As discussed in the previous chapter, the malfunctioning of labour market institutions and the limited ability of firms to respond to shocks in the initial years of transition led to the need for households to adopt coping strategies to mitigate the effects of income variability. This was especially true where formal financial institutions that offer insurance services were poorly developed. The continuation of many of these strategies in the recovery period today provides both opportunities and challenges for the implementation of government policies.
  • Policy Responses
    Economic policy making in the BSEC-CA transition economies during the 1990s was dominated by the fundamentals of creating a market-based economy. There were substantial differences in the extent and speed of price liberalisation, monetary stabilisation and enterprise restructuring, characterised at the time by polemics over shock therapy versus gradualism. The variations were, in practice, however, more complex. The crucial importance of institutions was not well recognised and everywhere institutional reform was slow.
  • Conclusions and Policy Recommendations
    The countries of the BSEC-CA region have experienced dramatic economic and social changes over the last two decades. Apart from Greece, Turkey and the workers’ self-managed economy of Serbia, they had centrally planned economies 20 years ago. The transition to a market-based economy was accompanied by declining average incomes and widening inequality, both interand intra-regionally. The disruption was exacerbated by armed conflicts or secession in much of south-eastern Europe and the CIS. In the 21st century, the economic situation has improved substantially as the main elements of the transition have been completed and economic growth has resumed, in some cases at a very fast rate. Much, however, remains to be done in terms of establishing market-based economies that promote prosperity and economic security. In no area has this been clearer than with respect to work and well-being.
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