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Book Translations as Idea Flows: The Effects of the Collapse of Communism on the Diffusion of Knowledge

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  • Ran Abramitzky
  • Isabelle Sin
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    Abstract

    We use book translations as a new measure of international idea flows and study the effects of Communism’s collapse in Eastern Europe on these flows. Using novel data on 800,000 translations and difference-in-differences approaches, we show that while translations between Communist languages decreased by two thirds with the collapse, Western-to-Communist translations increased by a factor of four and quickly converged to Western levels. Convergence was more pronounced in the fields of applied and social sciences, and was more complete in Satellite and Baltic than in Soviet countries. We discuss how these patterns help us understand how repressive institutions and preferences towards Western European ideas shaped the international diffusion of knowledge.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 20023.

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    Date of creation: Mar 2014
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20023

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    1. Blanchard, Olivier Jean, 1994. "Transition in Poland," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(426), pages 1169-77, September.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, 2007. "Goodbye Lenin (or Not?): The Effect of Communism on People," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1507-1528, September.
    3. Paul M. Romer, 2010. "What Parts of Globalization Matter for Catch-Up Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 94-98, May.
    4. Mark Harrison, 2001. "Soviet industry and the red army under stalin : a military-industrial complex?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 609, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    5. Ran Abramitzky, 2008. "The Limits of Equality: Insights from the Israeli Kibbutz," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1111-1159, August.
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