Soviet Sports and the Efficiency of Central Planning

Daniel Sutter

University of Oklahoma

Daniel J. Smith

Johnson Center at Troy University

May 9, 2013

The failure of economic central planning in the Soviet Union is interpreted as evidence of the impossibility of efficient central planning. But the deficiencies of the Soviet economy might have resulted from other factors, such as poor intentions on the part of its leaders. If so, the failure of the Soviet Union would not constitute evidence against the impossibility of central planning in other nations. We examine the implications of Soviet successes in Olympics and chess for the argument against central planning. We contend that three factors help explain Soviet sports successes: first, the objectivity of success in sports or chess in contrast with the subjectivity of economic success; second, the importance of fame and renown as motives for Olympic class athletes and chess grand masters; and third, the poor economic performance of the Soviet Union, which helped ensure incentive compatibility. Where economic information was not needed and the knowledge problem much less serious, Soviet planning was much more successful. Thus, Soviet successes in centrally planning sports reinforce the epistemic argument against economic planning.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 31

Keywords: central planning, Soviet Union, socialism, economic calculation

JEL Classification: B53, P20

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Date posted: May 10, 2013 ; Last revised: May 22, 2013

Suggested Citation

Sutter, Daniel and Smith, Daniel J., Soviet Sports and the Efficiency of Central Planning (May 9, 2013). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2262894 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2262894

Contact Information

Daniel Sutter
University of Oklahoma ( email )
307 W Brooks
Department of Economics Office Hest 329
Norman, OK 73019
United States
405-325-2861 (Phone)
Daniel J. Smith (Contact Author)
Johnson Center at Troy University ( email )
151 Bibb Graves Hall
Troy, AL 36082
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.danieljosephsmith.com/
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