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Soviet Development in World-Historical Perspective, from Farm to Factory: A Reinterpretation of the Soviet Industrial Revolution
[Farm to Factory: A Reinterpretation of the Soviet Industrial Revolution]

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Author Info

  • Robert C. Allen

    (Oxford University)

Abstract

To say that history's greatest economic experiment--Soviet communism--was also its greatest economic failure is to say what many consider obvious. Here, in a startling reinterpretation, Robert Allen argues that the USSR was one of the most successful developing economies of the twentieth century. He reaches this provocative conclusion by recalculating national consumption and using economic, demographic, and computer simulation models to address the "what if" questions central to Soviet history. Moreover, by comparing Soviet performance not only with advanced but with less developed countries, he provides a meaningful context for its evaluation. Although the Russian economy began to develop in the late nineteenth century based on wheat exports, modern economic growth proved elusive. But growth was rapid from 1928 to the 1970s--due to successful Five Year Plans. Notwithstanding the horrors of Stalinism, the building of heavy industry accelerated growth during the 1930s and raised living standards, especially for the many peasants who moved to cities. A sudden drop in fertility due to the education of women and their employment outside the home also facilitated growth. While highlighting the previously underemphasized achievements of Soviet planning, Farm to Factory also shows, through methodical analysis set in fluid prose, that Stalin's worst excesses--such as the bloody collectivization of agriculture--did little to spur growth. Economic development stagnated after 1970, as vital resources were diverted to the military and as a Soviet leadership lacking in original thought pursued wasteful investments.

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File URL: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s7611.html
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Bibliographic Info

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This chapter was published in: Robert C. Allen , , pages , 2003.

This item is provided by Princeton University Press in its series Introductory Chapters with number 7611-1.

Handle: RePEc:pup:chapts:7611-1

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Web page: http://press.princeton.edu

Related research

Keywords: communism; revolution; development; consumption; economic growth; industrialization; planning; agriculture; collectivization; investment;

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Cited by:
  1. Bas van Leeuwen & Peter Földvari, 2011. "Capital accumulation and growth in Central Europe, 1920-2006," Working Papers 0023, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  2. Justin Yifu Lin, 2007. "Development and Transition : Idea, Strategy, and Viability," Development Economics Working Papers 22709, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  3. Tracy Dennison & Steven Nafziger, 2011. "Micro-Perspectives on Living Standards in Nineteenth-Century Russia," Department of Economics Working Papers 2011-07, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  4. repec:cge:warwcg:57 is not listed on IDEAS

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