Filip Novokmet, Thomas Piketty, Gabriel Zucman, 09 November 2017

Russia has undergone a dramatic economic and political transformation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990-1991, yet the consequences on the distribution of income and wealth are not very well documented and understood. This column attempts to combine the various available data sources in order to provide consistent series on the accumulation and distribution of income and wealth in Russia from the Soviet period until the present day.

Mark Harrison, 07 November 2017

Russia’s Soviet era was distinguished not by economic growth or human development, but by the use of the economy to build national power. On the centenary of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, this column shows that while the education of women and better survival rates of children improved opportunities for many citizens, Soviet Russia was a tough and unequal environment in which to be born, live and grow old. The Soviet economy was designed for the age of mass production and mass armies. That age has gone, but the idea of the Soviet economy lives on, fed by nostalgia and nationalism.

Assaf Razin, 01 April 2017

Israel has received almost one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union, close to 19% of its established population. The extraordinary exodus of Soviet Jews to Israel in the 1990s is relevant to the current debate about globalisation. This column argues that the wave of immigration was distinctive for its large high-skilled cohort and its quick integration into the domestic labour market. Soviet-Jew immigration raised productivity, underpinned technological prowess, and had a large impact on income inequality and redistribution in Israel’s welfare state.

Mark Harrison, 15 January 2014

Democracy often seems bureaucratic with high ‘transaction costs’, while autocracies seem to get things done at lower cost. This column discusses historical research that refutes this. It finds empirical support from Soviet archives for a political security/usability tradeoff. Regimes that are secure from public scrutiny tend to be more costly to operate.

Anton Cheremukhin, Mikhail Golosov, Sergei Guriev, Aleh Tsyvinski, 10 October 2013

Soviet Russia’s industrialisation was a pivotal episode in the 20th century, and economic historians have spent decades debating the role of Stalin’s policies in bringing it about. This column argues that Stalin’s industrialisation was disastrous even in purely economic terms. The brutal policy of collectivisation devastated productivity, both in manufacturing and in agriculture. The massive welfare losses in the years 1928-40 outweighed any hypothetical gains from Stalin’s policies after 1940, and Russia would have been better off under a continuation of the ‘New Economic Policy’.

Anders Åslund, 21 August 2012

It has become increasingly fashionable to talk about Europe without the euro. But this column points out that in the last century Europe has seen the collapse of three multi-nation currency zones: the Habsburg Empire, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia – and they all ended with disastrous hyperinflation. The lesson for the Eurozone is clear: avoid break up at almost any cost.

Mark Harrison, Andrei Markevich, 11 May 2012

At the start of the 1920s, Russia’s economy suffered the greatest economic catastrophe of a turbulent 20th century. This column argues that measuring this experience yields lessons for the relationship between state capacity, government policies, and economic development.

Kazuhiro Kumo, 02 June 2010

Before the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia's total fertility rate was 2.01. By 1999 it was below 1.20, before rising closer to 1.5 in 2007. This column uses micro-data analysis to examine what factors have driven this change. It supports the evidence from other countries that fertility is not solely determined by short-term factors such as rising incomes, the economic climate, or government initiatives.

Konstantin Sonin, 31 October 2008

Stalin’s mass killings are often viewed as the acts of a deranged dictator. But according to Konstantin Sonin of the New Economic School in Moscow, such violence may have reflected the Soviet leader’s rational efforts to avoid losing power. In an interview with Romesh Vaitilingam, recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Milan in August 2008, he discusses his research and its implications for thinking about modern day dictators.

Konstantin Sonin, 09 August 2008

Stalin’s mass killings are often viewed as the acts of a deranged dictator. This column suggests that such violence may have been the Soviet leader’s rational attempt to avoid losing power in a revolution.

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