The Savings Collapse During the Transition in Eastern Europe
14 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: August 2000
The transition economies of Eastern Europe almost uniformly experienced a precipitous plunge in savings rates - from levels above 30 percent of GDP to levels about half that - early in the transition, before rebounding slightly. Did savings collapse because involuntary savings were eliminated (when goods became available for purchase) or because of a change in equilibrium savings, reflecting the changed economic circumstances and long-term prospects?
Denizer and Wolf assess the presence and extent of involuntary savings by comparing the predicted savings rates of market economies with those of the pre-transition economies. On balance, predicted savings rates fell short of actual savings rates, especially for the former Soviet Union and the Baltics - providing some support for the notion of excessive pre-transition savings.
Comparing the savings behavior of market economies and transition economies, they found substantial similarities, except for a negative link between savings and GDP growth. As the fastest-growing transition economies are at the bottom of the adjustment J-curve, the finding is consistent with consumption smoothing.
Finally, they explored whether differences in the extent of economic liberalization affected savings rates in the cross-section of transition economies. They found that liberalization is associated with lower savings, with a one-year lag. To the extent that liberalization is perceived as an indicator of likely future growth, this behavior is consistent with smoothing in the face of a J-curve change in output.
This paper - a product of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Sector Unit, Europe and Central Asia Region - is part of a larger effort in the region to understand the determinants of savings during the transition to a market economy. Cevdet Denizer may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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