Poland's Economic Performance

Economic reforms in Poland have been more successful than in any other Eastern European economy. Tight fiscal discipline, together with capital and product market reforms have allowed Poland to attract a large amount of foreign investment. This has been a key factor to its rapid economic growth and its ability to weather the 1998 global financial crisis.

We have conducted a limited study of the Polish economy to understand better the reasons for its past strong economic performance and identify possible areasfor further reforms. We have analyzed in detail two of the largest sectors of the economy – general merchandize retailing and housing construction (which are summarized in this chapter). The complete sector case studies are described in separate chapters of this report. We have also conducted an aggregate survey of both the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

In agriculture, we focused our analysis on the sources of income of various types of farmers to assess whether they are being left behind by the current economic progress. We did not study in detail the implications for Polish agriculture of joining the European Union. In manufacturing, we have estimated the potential rate of future job losses given, in particular, an assessment of future productivity growth in the sector drawing from our studies of manufacturing sectors in other developing countries.

Given this limited scope, we do not pretend to be able to forecast future output and employment growth for Poland. Nevertheless, our survey suggests that Poland could increase its chances of remaining on a high economic growth path if it promptly reforms its land and real estate markets. These reforms should also allow Poland to keep reducing its unemployment rate while continuing to pull workers out of low productivity jobs in agriculture.

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