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December 1991, Vol. 114, No. 12
Perestroika and its impact on the Soviet labor market
The breakup of the Soviet Union, spurred in part by the failure of its economic system, is a world-shaking event, unforeseen by most and pregnant with unforeseeable consequences. It is widely being argued that a market economy will in time evolve in the Soviet Union, but enormous obstacles remain in the path of such an evolution; and it is far from assured whether and how they will be overcome. In Restructuring the Soviet Economy, Nicolas Spulber analyzes the salient issues posed by the Soviet leadership's attempts to deal with them.1 In doing so, Spulber examines the factors behind the inability of Soviet economic institutions to narrow the productivity gap between Soviet and Western industries and to ensure adequate living standards for the Soviet people.
These same factors have inhibited the development of a work force trained and skilled in up-to-date production methods in industry and agriculture and in the efficient delivery of consumer services. Occupational and geographic mobility have been retarded, and large-scale unemployment threatened. The problems faced by the Soviet labor force under the pressures of restructuring and reform are discussed in detail in In Search of Flexibility, a collection of papers published by the International Labour Office and reviewed in the second part of this essay.2
This excerpt is from an article published in the December 1991 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 Nicolas Spulber, Restructuring the Soviet Economy: In Search of the Market (Ann Arbor, Michigan, University of Michigan Press, 1991), 315 pp., bibliography, $39.50.
2 Guy Standing, ed., in Search of Flexibility: The New Soviet Labour Market (Geneva, International Labour organization, 1991) 440 pp. Available in the United States from ILO Publications Center, Albany, New York.
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