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Central Asian Economies: Thirty Years After Dissolution of the Soviet Union

Richard Pomfret ()
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Richard Pomfret: University of Adelaide

Comparative Economic Studies, 2021, vol. 63, issue 4, No 1, 537-556

Abstract: Abstract In 2021, it is thirty years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This paper examines the evolution of Central Asia’s five national economies since 1991 and their economic prospects. The 1990s were dominated by nation-building and the transition from central planning. By 2000, the transition from central planning was essentially complete and the varieties of market-based economies have changed little in the 21st century. Political systems, established in the 1990s around a general pattern of strong presidencies, also changed little, apart from in Kyrgyzstan. Between 1999 and 2014, national economic fortunes were largely shaped by the resource boom. Since the end of the boom, to re-orient Central Asia from dependence on primary product exports and remittances to more diversified outward-oriented economies, domestic change will be necessary. This paper assesses the pressures for economic reform and the forces resistant to change. The economic context includes an improved infrastructure for overland trade across Eurasia as well as an uncertain global trading system and the consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic. The political context includes autocratic non-democracies with an elite that may be content with the unreformed economy, and generational change in leadership. Whereas the initial presidents had spent their entire lives in the planned economy, the current presidents have spent most of their adult lives in market-based economies, mirroring similar changes in the wider population, and may be less resistant to market-based reform and integration into the global economy.

Keywords: Central Asia; Transition; Leaders (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O53 P16 P30 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1057/s41294-021-00166-z

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