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.
This book considers how we might think intelligently about the future. Taking different methodological approaches, well-known specialists forecast likely future developments and trends in human life. The questions they address include: How many humans will there be? Will there be enough energy? How will climate change affect our lives? What patterns of work will exist? How will government work at the local, national, and world level? Will inflation remain under control? Why have past forecasts been so bad? The book concludes with a discussion of the intellectual and historical context of futurology and a look at the accuracy of predictions that were made for the year 2000.
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.
If free markets and private ownership are meant to increase economic opportunity and welfare, why has their introduction been accompanied by such pain in Eastern Europe and Russia? The contributors to this book believe that future reform strategies in any country depend on understanding what has occurred in these emerging economies so far. Issues addressed include inflation, privatization, enterprise restructuring, banking reform and labor market policy, and the role of decentralization in China's growth.
Contributors: Peter Boone, Saul Estrin, Stanislaw Gomulka, Jacob Hørder, Richard Jackman, Richard Layard, Sweder Van Wijnbergen, Wing Thye Woo, Chengang Xu, Juzhong Zhuang