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The Soviet Economy, 1917-1991: Its Life and Afterlife


  • Harrison, Mark

    (University of Warwick)


In terms of economic development, Russia before and after the Soviet era was just an average economy. If the Soviet era is distinguished, it was not by economic growth or its contribution to human development, but by the use of the economy to build national power over many decades. In this respect, the Soviet economy was a success. It was also a tough and unequal environment in which to be born, live, and grow old. The Soviet focus on building national capabilities did improve opportunities for many citizens. Most important were the education of women and the increased survival of children. The Soviet economy was designed for the age of mass production and mass armies. That age has gone, but the idea of the Soviet economy lives on, fed by nostalgia and nationalism.

Suggested Citation

  • Harrison, Mark, 2017. "The Soviet Economy, 1917-1991: Its Life and Afterlife," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 327, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:327

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Markevich, Andrei & Harrison, Mark, 2011. "Great War, Civil War, and Recovery: Russia's National Income, 1913 to 1928," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(03), pages 672-703, September.
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    command economy; communism; economic growth; incentives; power; security; Soviet Union; war economy JEL Classification: H1; N44; P20.;

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-
    • P20 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - General

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