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December 1990, Vol. 113, No. 12
Helping Poland cope with unemployment
Robert W. Bednarzik
The transition from State socialism to a market economy is fraught with danger for Poland. Failure or too long a transition period can provoke serious unrest. Unemployment is certain to be a part of such a transition. At the request of the Polish Ministry of Labor, the U.S. Department of Labor has begun a technical assistance program to help Polish workers adjust to the crucial period of economic transition and reform.
This article describes the nature of the U.S. Department of Labor's technical assistance to Poland. To help understand how the assistance is tailored to Poland's economic system, reform plan, labor market structure, and unemployment prospects.
Poland's pre-1989 economy
By the end of the 1940's, Poland had established a centrally planned economic system based on the Soviet model of state-owned industry and central control of production and trade. This model lead to rapid industrialization, with extensive concentration of capitol and labor in heavy industries. Output growth depended on increasing inputs rather than productivity. Capitol was raised through forced savings (for example, by moderating the rate of growth of consumption and by limiting investment in infrastructures such as housing and communications). Individual labor was drawn from agriculture and by increasing the labor force participation rate of women.1
This excerpt is from an article published in the December 1990 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Zbigniew M. Fallenbuchl, "The Polish Economy in the 1970's," in East European Economies Post-Helsinki (U.S. Congress, Joint Economic Committee, 95th Cong., 1977, Committee Print), pp. 816-64.
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