IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Link to full text PDF
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    File URL:
    File Function: Link to full text HTML
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    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).
    2. repec:taf:pocoec:v:28:y:2016:i:2:p:220-231 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pal:compes:v:47:y:2005:i:2:p:259-273. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.