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Tea Leaves and Productivity: Bergsonian Norms for Gauging the Soviet Future


  • Steven Rosefielde

    () (Gardner Hall, CB#3305, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3305, USA.)


Abram Bergson's attitudes toward the reliability of Soviet statistics and the feasibility of socialism took shape in two distinct phases. He convinced himself and the profession by 1953 that Soviet data were ‘usable’ and that socialism could conceivably outperform capitalism. However, he reversed field a decade later on the issue of merit concluding that while the USSR would survive, negative factor productivity growth made it inherently inferior. Both predictions proved problematic. Negative factor productivity growth was never confirmed by Goskomstat's figures. The numbers had to be adjusted for ‘hidden inflaion’ to get this result, but these ‘corrections’ compromised the claim that Soviet statistics were ‘reliable’. Likewise, the Soviet Union's demise casts a cloud over the ‘usability’ both of official and adjusted statistics. There is nothing in these series that explains Mikhail Gorbachev's and Boris Yeltsin's haste in scuttling Command Communism. Comparative Economic Studies (2005) 47, 259–273. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ces.8100108

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Rosefielde, 2005. "Tea Leaves and Productivity: Bergsonian Norms for Gauging the Soviet Future," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 47(2), pages 259-273, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:compes:v:47:y:2005:i:2:p:259-273

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    1. Andrei Markevich & Mark Harrison, 2009. "Russia’s Real National Income: The Great War, Civil War, and Recovery, 1913 to 1928," Working Papers w0130, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).

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