Book Translations as Idea Flows: The Effects of the Collapse of Communism on the Diffusion of Knowledge

59 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2014 Last revised: 30 Sep 2014

See all articles by Ran Abramitzky

Ran Abramitzky

Stanford University - Department of Economics

Isabelle Sin

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2014

Abstract

We use book translations as a new measure of international idea flows and study the effects of Communism's collapse in Eastern Europe on these flows. Using novel data on 800,000 translations and difference-in-differences approaches, we show that while translations between Communist languages decreased by two thirds with the collapse, Western-to-Communist translations increased by a factor of four and quickly converged to Western levels. Convergence was more pronounced in the fields of applied and social sciences, and was more complete in Satellite and Baltic than in Soviet countries. We discuss how these patterns help us understand how repressive institutions and preferences towards Western European ideas shaped the international diffusion of knowledge.

Suggested Citation

Abramitzky, Ran and Sin, Isabelle, Book Translations as Idea Flows: The Effects of the Collapse of Communism on the Diffusion of Knowledge (March 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20023. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2421123

Ran Abramitzky (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Isabelle Sin

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research ( email )

Level 1, 93 Cuba Street
P.O. Box 24390
Wellington, 6142
New Zealand

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