Accounting for growth in the Soviet Union and the Union republics in 1950-1990

Friday 6 December 2019, 2.30PM to 3.30 pm

Speaker(s): Ilya Voskoboynikov (NRU Russia)

Hosts: Thllo Huning/Matthias Morys

Book your: 1:1 meetings

Abstract: What are proximate causes of the economic slowdown of the Soviet Union in last decades before the collapse? A great deal of previous research into this has suggested the story of a shift of the economy from inputs-driven growth (see, e.g., Krugman (1994)) and low labor-capital substitution (Easterly and Fisher, 1995). Recent studies challenge them. Dealing with three socialist economies in Eastern Europe, Vonyo and Klein (2019) have highlighted capital slowdown as the main cause for stagnation of the planned economy. In turn, Beare (2008) and Nakamura (2015) found the labor-capital story less convincing.

Using a newly developed detailed official historical statistics of labour, capital and output in industries of the Union republics, the paper contributes to the debate on origins of Soviet economic slowdown. For the first time the paper compares the role of inputs, total factor productivity and inter-industry labour reallocation. More detailed statistics of capital in Russian manufacturing provides an opportunity to look at the impact of the shift from capital stocks to capital services on growth accounting decomposition of Soviet planned economy and confirms that the slowdown of capital input, rather than TFP, can be essential for understanding Soviet stagnation.


Location: A/D271 (above Alcuin Porters)

Admission: All welcome