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March 1992, Vol. 115, No. 3
A s free-market reforms are introduced into the formerly centrally planned economies of Eastern Europe,1 the statistical agencies of these countries face enormous challenges. In the short term, policymakers will need reliable statistics on the pace and impact of the reforms, as each country embarks on the transition process. For the longer term, national statistical agencies must anticipate and prepare for the future statistical needs of the evolving market economies, a process including the establishment or revision of methodologies, concepts, and standards. Finally, restoring public confidence in official statistical series is an important priority.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in cooperation with Eurostat, the statistical office of European Communities, sponsored a Conference on Economic Statistics for Economies in Transition: Eastern Europe in the 1990's.2 The conference, held February 14-16, 1991, in Washington, focused on the immediate and longer term challenges facing the Eastern European statistical agencies as they adapt to the increase in free-market activities in their countries' economies. This article discusses some of these challenges and insights gathered from the conference on the best ways to meet them.
The Economies in Transition conference provided a forum for practical discussions of the effects on economic statistics of political and economic change in the Eastern European countries.3 More than 200 representatives of statistical agencies, academia, and professional organizations from 22 countries, including 53 representatives from 7 Eastern European countries-Poland, Hungary, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Romania-participated in the conference.
This excerpt is from an article published in the March 1992 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 For ease of exposition, the term "Eastern Europe" is used in this article to refer to Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, and the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany), as well as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). The article's reference to the U.S.S.R., rather than the Commonwealth of Independent States, reflects that nation's political status when the conference was held.
2 A volume on the conference proceedings including commissioned papers, panel discussion remarks, and discussant and audience comments, is forthcoming.
3 In addition to the recent conference, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is providing guidance and support to statistical agencies in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the former U.S.S.R. (now Commonwealth of Independent States) as they work to meet these challenges.The Bureau's Eastern European assistance program, funded by the Support for Eastern European Democracies (SEED) Act, was initiated in November 1989. Bureau staff traveled to Warsaw and Budapest to meet with staff from the respective central statistical offices, discuss the type of assistance needed, and provide guidance on various statistical issues. Top officials of the Central Statistical Office of Poland, in turn visited the Bureau in September 1990 to participate in further discussions. Also staff from the central statistical offices of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the former U.S.S.R. are participating in various seminars and workshops conducted by the Bureau's Division of International Training and Cooperation.
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