Catching-up and inflation in transition economies: the Balassa-Samuelson effect revisited

BIS Working Papers No 270
December 2008


This paper estimates the Balassa-Samuelson effects for 11 countries in central and eastern Europe on a disaggregated set of quarterly data covering the period from the mid-1990s to the first quarter of 2008. The Balassa-Samuelson effects are clearly present and explain around 24% of inflation differentials vis-à-vis the euro area (about 1.2 percentage points on average); and around 84% of domestic relative price differentials between non-tradables and tradables; or about 16% of total domestic inflation (about 1.1 percentage points on average). The paper presents mixed evidence on whether the Balassa-Samuelson effects have declined since 2001 compared with the second half of the 1990s.

JEL Classification Numbers: E31, F36, O11, P20

Keywords: Balassa-Samuelson effect, productivity, inflation, transition, convergence, European monetary union, Maastricht criteria