Report: “Sources of economic growth in the sectors of the economy of the USSR and the Soviet republics in 1950-1990”
Ilya Voskoboynikov presented the report, on December 4, 2019, at a meeting of the Center for Economic History of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Faculty of History. The work was part of two projects of HSE University—Russia KLEMS and “Long-term economic growth and structural changes in the USSR and the CIS since 1960”.
The report examines the direct causes for the slowdown in economic growth of the USSR in the postwar period. While the notion of increasing inefficiency in a planned economy is generally accepted, specific forms of this inefficiency and their contribution to slower growth are still discussed in the literature. There are two general explanations for inefficiency: a decrease in the marginal product of capital with an insignificant role in productivity, and the low elasticity of the substitution of the factors of production.
The introduction of new data and new results allows us to look at these explanations in a new light. First, more detailed capital statistics in some Eastern European countries suggest a slowdown in capital growth as the source of the slowdown. Second, the role of the elasticity of substitution in the deceleration of economic growth is not statistically confirmed if errors in the work eliminated and the corrected data are used.
The report provides detailed official statistics of output and factors of production in the branches of the Soviet republics and, on that basis, takes a fresh look at this problem. Along with assessing the contribution of labor, capital, and productivity to growth, the work for the first time examines the contribution of the reallocation of labor between industries in the Soviet republics. Using the example of Soviet Russia, on the basis of more detailed statistics of capital, the differences in the productivity of certain types of capital are taken into account.
The work shows that the redistribution of workers between industries in almost all Soviet republics had practically no effect on the growth of output. In other words, the Soviet economy was deprived of the structural bonus. Secondly, in the economy of Soviet Russia, with excessive spending on investment goods, there was also a shortage of active capital.
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