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The Grand Experiment of Communism: Discovering the Trade-Off between Equality and Efficiency

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This paper examines how the interplay between economic incentives and social preferences transmitted by ideology plays a role in the rise and fall of communism. We introduce inequality-averse and inefficiency-averse agents and model their conflict in ideology, triggered by envy. The socioeconomic dynamics generate a pendulum-like switch from markets to a centrally planned economy abolishing private ownership, and back to restoring market incentives. The grand experiment of communism is thus characterized as leading to the discovery of a trade-off between equality and efficiency. The model also derives conditions under which the two systems converge and become stable.
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Keywords: COMMUNISM; ECONOMIC SYSTEM TRANSITIONS; IDEOLOGY TRANSMISSION; INEFFICIENCY; INEQUALITY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2018

This article was made available online on 16 March 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "The Grand Experiment of Communism: Discovering the Trade-Off between Equality and Efficiency".

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  • Founded as Zeitschrift für die gesamte Staatswissenschaft in 1844.

    As one of the oldest journals in the field of political economy, the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE) deals traditionally with the problems of economics, social policy, and their legal framework. JITE is listed in the Journal of Economic Literature, the Social Science Citation Index, the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, and COREJ.

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    From 2013 on all accepted articles are published in an Online First version (in their final layout) to make them searchable and citable by their DOI immediately after peer review and acceptance. Once the article is published in an issue of the journal, the Online First version will be removed.

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