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Soviet Growth & American Textbooks

28 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2009 Last revised: 15 Dec 2009

David M. Levy

George Mason University - Center for Study of Public Choice

Sandra J. Peart

University of Richmond - Jepson School of Leadership Studies

Date Written: December 3, 2009

Abstract

We examine the treatment of Soviet growth in successive editions of American economics textbooks published between 1960 and 1980. What we find repeatedly is over-confidence in the potential for Soviet growth and an asymmetric response to past forecast errors. More than this, the textbooks report faster Soviet income growth combined with a constant ratio of Soviet–US income. Textbooks that abstracted from these institutional details (thin) offered a wider range of application than those which focused on one society (thick). A simple way to distinguish these two traditions is whether the book used a productivity possibility frontier [PPF] for cross-societal comparisons. Thick accounts did not while thin ones did. It was in the institutional dimension that the account by Tarshis differed from that of Samuelson.

Keywords: Soviet growth, principles textbooks, Samuelson, Tarshis

JEL Classification: A20, P17, P27

Suggested Citation

Levy, David M. and Peart, Sandra J., Soviet Growth & American Textbooks (December 3, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1517983 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1517983

David M. Levy (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Center for Study of Public Choice ( email )

MSN 1d3 Carow Hall
4400 University
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Sandra J. Peart

University of Richmond - Jepson School of Leadership Studies ( email )

Jepson Hall
Richmond, VA 23173
United States

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