Falling Behind and Catching Up Southeast Europe and East Central Europe in Comparison

23  June 2016    9:30 am CEST

The Institute for East European History, University of Vienna and wiiw present recent research on long-term economic developments in selected countries of CESEE


wiiw, Rahlgasse 3, 1060 Vienna, lecture hall (ground floor)


Southeast Europe (SEE) holds a long record of being one of Europe’s least developed regions. Sporadic growth spurts are regularly followed by strong fall-backs. Neither firms, nor banks or states were able to make broad industrialisation happen in a sustainable way. The analysis of determinants and effects of backwardness in Southeast Europe is the central topic of the recently completed wiiw GDN SEE research project, which aims to support high quality socio-economic research in the region and to connect local research teams with the international academic community, as well as the activities of the Global Development Network (GDN). Between November 2014 and April 2016, wiiw economists and research teams from the region have been analysing the reasons for the lagging behind of Southeast Europe under the broad theoretical approach that can be characterised as that of the Austrian theory of development. This approach relies on the seminal work in development economics by Alexander Gerschenkron (the role of the state, firms and banks in pulling countries out of backwardness), Paul Rosenstein-Rodan (increasing returns and large scale infrastructure investment) and Albert Hirschman (induced industrialisation and its forward and backward linkages), accounting for a region’s development – or its failure. The conference will present the main conclusions from the research project by assuming a long- term perspective on the SEE regions’ GDP growth path (1952-2015), industrialisation (1963-2011), the development of basic transport infrastructure (1830-2010) as well as the banking sector (1952-2014). The analysis of the SEE region will be compared to selected studies on long-term developments in East Central Europe. In particular, long run macro and meso developments will be compared to micro-histories that shed new light on the transformation of socialism to capitalism in East Central Europe as analysed in the project “Transformations from Below” conducted by the Institute for East European History at the University of Vienna.