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

  • Ran Abramitzky

    ()

    (Stanford University)

  • Isabelle Sin

    (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research)

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    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, we show that while translations between Communist languages decreased by two thirds with the collapse, Western-to-Communist translations increased by a factor of seven and reached Western levels. Convergence was full in economically-beneficial fields such as sciences and only partial in culturally-beneficial fields such as history. The effects were larger for more Western-oriented countries. These findings help us understand how institutions shape the international diffusion of knowledge.

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    File URL: http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/repec/sip/09-032.pdf
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    Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 09-032.

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    Date of creation: Aug 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:09-032
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    1. Daniel Munich & Jan Svejnar & Daniel Munich, 1999. "Returns to Human Capital under the Communist Wage Grid and During the Transition to a Market Economy," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 272, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    2. Nathan Nunn, 2009. "The Importance of History for Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 14899, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 2005. "Patents, Citations, and Innovations: A Window on the Knowledge Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026260065x, June.
    4. Nunn, Nathan & Wantchekon, Leonard, 2011. "The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa," Scholarly Articles 11986331, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    5. Adam Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1999. "International Knowledge Flows: Evidence From Patent Citations," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1-2), pages 105-136.
    6. Pinelopi Goldberg & Amit Khandelwal & Nina Pavcnik & Petia Topalova, 2009. "Trade Liberalization and New Imported Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 494-500, May.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
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