Many argue that socialism in Eastern Europe broke down in part because of its economic inefficiency, the evidence for which lies in the comparatively low per capita income in the former CMEA (Council of Mutual Economic Assistance) countries. Their democratic successors and their Western counterparts hope that economic conditions will improve and that after a successful transformation into a market economy, these economies will begin to approach Western standards. The implication is that the main source of economic backwardness in these countries has been their “wrong” economic system. The assumption needs closer examination if only because of the considerable differences in average income levels within Western Europe and even within the European Community.