Data watch: Research data from transition economies

Type Journal Article - Journal of Economic Perspectives
Title Data watch: Research data from transition economies
Volume 16
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2002
Page numbers 225-240
This section will offer a description of data sources that may be of interest to economists. The purpose is to describe what data are available from those sources, what questions can be addressed because of the unique features of the data, and how an interested reader can gain access to the data. Suggestions for data sources that might be discussed here (or comments on past columns) can be sent to Willliam N. Evans, c/o Data Watch, University of Maryland, Department of Economics, College Park, Maryland 20742 or they can be e-mailed to .\n\nIntroduction\nTen years into the transition from communism in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe, a cursory search of the EconLit database turns up hundreds of empirical studies published in refereed journals that deal with various issues in transition economies. Even so, we suspect that many economists are prevented from making full use of the possibilities offered by the transition by the difficulties of obtaining and interpreting data from the region.\nThe purpose of this brief essay is to provide an indication of possible sources for data that can be used for economic analysis, as well as some general cautions regarding the use of this data. Many transition countries of the former Soviet Union and central and eastern Europe have been rapidly reforming and increasing the capabilities of their statistical offices. The information in this essay is as accurate as we can make it, but in a region that is changing as rapidly as the transition economies, information can become outdate rapidly. We will endeavor to provide updated information as it becomes known to us at .\n\nWhen discussing each type of data we present an illustrative list of some recent works that have used these data. These references are far from exhaustive and are meant simply to give a general idea of topics analyzed and economists using data from transition economies. The vast majority of studies of transition\neconomies have been conducted by experts on the transition and focus on issues of the transition. We hope that by making it easier to access data from the post-communist countries, this essay will encourage economists who are not specialists in the region to begin to use the tremendous possibilities of this once-\nin-a-lifetime series of natural experiments to address fundamental questions in economics.

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