The Veil of Communism: An Analysis of Lifespan, GDP per Capita, Human Capital, and Agricultural Productivity in Eastern Europe

By Matei Dăian. Stanford University. 

There is a clear economic difference between the more economically-developed Western Europe and their poorer counterparts in Eastern Europe and central Asia. But what caused this economic divergence? How big of a role did communism play? If communism is responsible, through what economic mechanisms did it manage to hinder growth? This paper will look at GDP/capita, growth in GDP/capita, human capital, labor to land ratio, ratio of unskilled to skilled workers, growth in lifespan, average expenditure per student and variations in these outcomes in order to determine a more specific impact of communism. This paper finds not only that communism had a huge negative impact on growth, but that even though communism was completely gone from Europe by 1991; it still impacts the growth of former communist countries. Moreover, there seem to be 2 blocks of countries within the communist bloc: non-Soviet Central and Eastern Europe and Soviet Eastern Europe and Central Asia and these two regions behave very differently.

Read the full paper here.