Published February 1999
This paper examines the impact of the transition on living standards and welfare in the five Republics of former Soviet Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, along with the Republic of Azerbaijan. A broad definition of welfare is taken, including both economic measures and capability-based indicators, reflecting the health and education of the population. The picture that emerges is of a regional population facing severe economic, physical and psycho-social stress. Over half the population is now living in poverty. Real wages have fallen, joblessness has increased, school enrolment has dropped and general health has deteriorated. However, despite this gloomy picture, households are also proving to be remarkably resilient to the dramatic drop in living standards most have experienced. Nevertheless, strategies for alleviating poverty and encouraging regeneration that increase employment opportunities, improve the social safety net, and protect the region's human capital are urgently required.