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

Author

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  • Ran Abramitzky

    () (Stanford University)

  • Isabelle Sin

    (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research)

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, 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ran Abramitzky & Isabelle Sin, 2010. "Book Translations As Idea Flows: The Effects of the Collapse of Communism on the Diffusion of Knowledge," Discussion Papers 09-032, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:09-032
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. George J. Borjas & Kirk B. Doran, 2012. "The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1143-1203.
    2. George J. Borjas & Kirk B. Doran, 2015. "Cognitive Mobility: Labor Market Responses to Supply Shocks in the Space of Ideas," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(S1), pages 109-145.
    3. Cantoni, Davide & Yuchtman, Noam, 2013. "The political economy of educational content and development: Lessons from history," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 233-244.
    4. Ran Abramitzky, 2011. "Lessons from the Kibbutz on the Equality-Incentives Trade-Off," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 185-208, Winter.
    5. Orazbayev, Sultan, 2017. "International knowledge flows and the administrative barriers to mobility," Research Policy, Elsevier, pages 1655-1665.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    international flows of ideas; international transfer of knowledge; globalization; book translations; Communism; transition economies;

    JEL classification:

    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N74 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: 1913-
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • P20 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - General
    • P30 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - General
    • P51 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Analysis of Economic Systems
    • P52 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Studies of Particular Economies

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