A Reassessment of the Soviet Industrial Revolution1

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Robert C Allen (2005)

The Soviet Union grew rapidly by comparison with other countries at a similar stage of development in the 1920s. It is unlikely that the Tsarist economy would have done so well had the 1917 revolution not occurred. Recalculations of national income since 1928 indicate that growth was not confined to investment or military equipment but included consumption in the 1930s. A simulation model indicates that expanding the producer goods sector and soft budget constraints account for most of the rapid growth. Collectivisation made a slight, positive contribution to growth by the late 1930s by increasing rural–urban migration through state terrorism; however, most of the rapid growth of the 1930s could have been achieved in the context of an NEP-style economy. Much of the USSR's rapid growth in per capita income was due to the rapid fertility transition, which had the same causes as in other countries, principally, the education of women and their employment outside the home. Once structural unemployment in agriculture was eliminated and accessible natural resources were fully exploited, poor policies depressed the growth rate. These included massive investments in Siberian resources and the retooling of outmoded factories. Comparative Economic Studies (2005) 47, 315–332. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ces.8100101
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