Breaking the Unbreakable Union: Nationalism, Disintegration and the Soviet Economic Collapse

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  • This article has been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but has not been through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process, which may lead to differences between this version and the Version of Record. Please cite this article as doi: 10.1111/ecoj.12564

Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of prospective secessions on economic integration and growth by examining the break-up of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Firstly, I show theoretically how regional elites had an incentive to restrict domestic trade once secession from the Union became possible. Secondly, I show empirically that the increased likelihood of secessions by the Union's member republics strongly cut domestic trade. Thirdly, I show how this explains the severity of the Soviet output fall. These patterns persist once I instrument for prospective secessions with nationalist agendas that are exogenous to trade or growth.

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