Abstract

This paper contributes to the debate on the social impact of globalization. It focuses on the mediating role of the sectoral pattern of transnational production relocation to the postcommunist economies of Eastern Europe. We argue that the collapse of the socialist heavy industries and the eastward relocation of traditional light industries initially forced the social conditions of the East European countries to converge at the bottom and deepened the gap between the West and the East. Later, the eastward migration of high-skilled labor and capital-intensive industries and jobs led to decreasing social disparity between the West and some of the former socialist countries. However, convergence appears uncertain, costly, and uneven, and coincides with increasing social disparity within the group of East European new members and candidates of the European Union.