Predicting the future is notoriously difficult. But systematic analysis leads to clearer understanding and wiser decisions. Thinking about the future also makes social scientists focus their research into the past and present more fruitfully, with more attention to key predictors of change.
The collapse of communism in Europe was one of the most important world events since the end of World War II. Although China has taken major steps in the direction of capitalism, in Eastern Europe, China, and Central Asia the transformation has been only partly accomplished; in Cuba and North Korea it has not even begun. In Eastern Europe and Russia, economic reforms were accompanied by huge falls in output, followed by some recovery in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland. By contrast, in China output has grown steadily at a rate never seen in Europe.