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Discusses the possible relevance of the Kuznets environmental curve to centrally planned economies and compares their situation with that for market economies. Claims that Kuznets environmental curves apply to ‘normal’ situations and so give little guide to environmental impacts of economies in transition. Difficulties encountered in protecting the environment in transitional situations are given special consideration. The environmental experiences of Eastern and Central Europe, Russia and China are discussed. Their different methods of social and economic transformation and varied economic fortunes have had divergent environmental consequences in these countries. When negative economic growth has occurred in transition over a long period, as in Russia, the natural environment has suffered. However, as explained, the situation is complex. In the conclusion, some attention is given to the environmental situation of African countries in transition. Their transitional processes, like that of many other countries, are driven by international financial pressure to adopt structural adjustment policies. It is noted that the consequences of transition depend very much on whether the ‘American’ laissez-faire ideal of a market economy is adopted or the ‘German’ social order market-model and on whether transition is gradualistic or suddenly forced without adequate internal institution-building


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