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Reform in China and Russia: A Comparative Perspective  

Mariya Y. Omelicheva and John James Kennedy

After years of communism and central planning, Russia and China embarked on broad transformations from planned to market economy and limited political liberalization reforms. Chinese reforms commenced in 1978, while those in the Soviet Union started in 1991. The two countries took contrasting paths to economic reform, and their experiences during economic transition have been viewed as polar opposites. The reform experiences of Russia and China sparked intense academic debates over a variety of issues surrounding transition from communism to market economy. The primary source of scholarly disagreement is whether the pace, the sequence, or country-specific initial conditions determines the success of economic and political reforms. The debates revolved around questions such as whether there is a relationship between economic processes and political reforms in the transitional states, or whether economic liberalization should pave the way for political liberalization. Two dominant approaches to transition from socialism to capitalism advanced in the literature are “shock therapy” and gradualism; the former was adopted by the Russians and the latter by the Chinese. Several lessons can be learned from the Russian and Chinese transition, such as the impact of structural forces on the leadership’s policy preferences and the importance of tenable development policies to ensure the success of economic reforms. Notwithstanding these lessons, there remain a number of questions that deserve further investigation, mainly in terms of the role of China and Russia in world politics.

Article

What Drives HIV in Africa? Addressing Economic Gender Inequalities to Close the HIV Gender Gap  

Aurélia Lépine, Henry Cust, and Carole Treibich

Ending HIV as a public health threat by 2030 presents challenges significantly different to those of the past 40 years. Initially perceived as a disease affecting gay men, today, HIV disproportionately affects adolescents and young women in Africa. Current strategies to prevent HIV mostly rely on using biomedical interventions to reduce the risk of infection during risky sex and to address that biologically; women are more vulnerable to HIV infection than men. Ongoing policies and strategies to end the AIDS epidemic in Africa are likely to fail if implemented alone, given they fail to address why vulnerable young women engage in risky sexual behaviors. Evidence strongly suggests economic vulnerability, rather than income level, is a primary driver of women's decision to engage in commercial and transactional sex. By viewing HIV through the lens of structural gender inequality, poverty, and use of risky sexual behaviors to cope with economic shocks, a new explanation for the HIV gender gap emerges. New and promising approaches to reduce HIV acquisition and transmission by protecting women from economic shocks and increasing their ability to participate in the economy have proven effective. Such interventions are vital to break the pattern of unequal HIV transmission against women and if HIV is to be beaten.

Article

The Japanese Economy Since World War II  

Simon Bytheway

Japan’s remarkable postwar experience of economic reconstruction, growth, and development explains much of why it is so intensely studied in other countries today. In common with much of the world and particularly the advanced, capitalist economies of Western Europe, Japan prospered during the years of the long postwar boom (1954–1970). Reestablished by the Truman administration as the archetype of an anti-inflationist, export-based economy, Japan’s success is perhaps unsurprising. What is remarkable, however, is that Japanese economic growth and development continued right up until the 1990s, despite being forced to make abrupt “corrections” to the country’s basic monetary settings by the Nixon and Reagan administrations, changes that precipitated an eventual three-fold increase in the international exchange rate of the yen. Against the backdrop of rising petroleum and energy prices (or “oil shocks”), global inflation, systematic financial crises, widespread economic recession, and the vexing phenomena of stagflation in many of the more mature capitalist economies of the West, the Japanese economy thrived. Japan became the world’s second largest economy (in terms of nominal gross domestic product [GDP]) from 1968 until 2010 with a relatively small population (101 million in 1968 and 128 million in 2010). The fall of Japan’s economic standing from second to third place tragically coincided with the triple disaster of March 11, 2011: an earthquake and tsunami that struck along the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan, causing a nuclear catastrophe. The triple disaster, in turn, led to the fall of the non–Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Kan and Noda governments, a belated acknowledgement of Japan’s worsening demographic situation (chronic low birthrates with an increasingly elderly population) the re-election of the LDP Abe government, and the return of economic growth ideology in the form of Abenomics and its New Capitalism successor.