nep-cis New Economics Papers
on Confederation of Independent States
Issue of 2012‒09‒30
three papers chosen by
Alexander Harin
Modern University for the Humanities

  1. The Gorbachev Anti-Alcohol Campaign and Russia's Mortality Crisis By Bhattacharya, Jay; Gathmann, Christina; Miller, Grant
  2. What Happened to the Soviet Superpower's Nuclear Arsenal? Clues for the Nuclear Security Summit By Allison, Graham
  3. Non-Price Competitiveness of Exports from Emerging Countries By Konstantins Benkovskis; Julia Wörz

  1. By: Bhattacharya, Jay (Stanford University); Gathmann, Christina (University of Heidelberg); Miller, Grant (Stanford University)
    Abstract: Political and economic transition is often blamed for Russia's 40% surge in deaths between 1990 and 1994 (the "Russian Mortality Crisis"). Highlighting that increases in mortality occurred primarily among alcohol related causes and among working-age men (the heaviest drinkers), this paper investigates an alternative explanation: the demise of the 1985-1988 Gorbachev Anti-Alcohol Campaign. We use archival sources to build a new oblast-year data set spanning 1970-2000 and find that: (1) The campaign was associated with substantially fewer campaign year deaths, (2) Oblasts with larger reductions in alcohol consumption and mortality during the campaign experienced larger transition era increases, and (3) Other former Soviet states and Eastern European countries exhibit similar mortality patterns commensurate with their campaign exposure. The campaign's end explains a large share of the mortality crisis, suggesting that Russia's transition to capitalism and democracy was not as lethal as commonly suggested.
    Keywords: mortality, transition, alcohol, Russia
    JEL: I18 I15 P35 P36 P37
    Date: 2012–08
  2. By: Allison, Graham (Harvard University)
    Abstract: Twenty years ago Russia and fourteen other newly-independent states emerged from the ruins of the Soviet empire, many as nations for the first time in history. As is typical in the aftermath of the collapse of an empire, this was followed by a period of chaos, confusion, and corruption. As the saying went at the time, "everything is for sale." At that same moment, as the Soviet state imploded, 35,000 nuclear weapons remained at thousands of sites across a vast Eurasian landmass that stretched across eleven time zones. Today, fourteen of the fifteen successor states to the Soviet Union are nuclear weapons-free. When the U.S.S.R. disappeared, 3,200 strategic nuclear warheads remained in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, most of them atop intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that stood on alert, ready to be fired at targets in the U.S. Today, every one of the nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus has been deactivated and returned to Russia, where they were dismantled and the nuclear material in the warheads blended down to produce fuel for civilian reactors. Strategic nuclear weapons are nuclear warheads aimed at an adversary's nuclear weapons, cities and military infrastructure. Typically, they are large in yield and heavy. Of greater interest to terrorists, however, were the former U.S.S.R's 22,000 tactical nuclear weapons with smaller yields and shorter ranges. These were designed primarily for battlefield use, with some small enough to fit into a duffel bag. Today, all of these have also been returned to Russia, leaving zero nuclear weapons in any other state of the former Soviet Union. Former Czech president Vaclav Havel observed about the rush of events in the 1990s: "things have changed so fast we have not yet taken time to be astonished." Perhaps the most astonishing fact about the past twenty years is something that did not happen. Despite the risk realistically estimated by former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney in 3 What Happened to the Soviet Superpower's Nuclear Arsenal? Clues for the Nuclear Security Summit December 1991, two decades have passed without the discovery of a single nuclear weapon outside Russia. This paper will address the question: how did this happen? Looking ahead, it will consider what clues we can extract from the success in denuclearizing fourteen post-Soviet states that can inform our non-proliferation and nuclear security efforts in the future. These clues may inform leaders of the U.S., Russia, and other responsible nations attending the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit on March 26-27, 2012. The paper will conclude with specific recommendations, some exceedingly ambitious that world leaders could follow to build on the Seoul summit's achievements against nuclear terrorism in the period before the next summit in 2014. One of these would be to establish a Global Alliance Against Nuclear Terrorism.
    Date: 2012–08
  3. By: Konstantins Benkovskis; Julia Wörz
    Abstract: We analyse EMEs global competitiveness whereby we explicitly take account of non-price aspects of competitiveness building on the methodology developed in Feenstra (1994) and Broda and Weinstein (2006) and the extension provided in Benkovskis and Wörz (2012). We construct an export price index which adjusts for changes in the set of competitors (variety) and changes in non-price factors (quality in a broad sense) for a set of nine large emerging economies (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia and Turkey). We use a highly disaggregated data set at the detailed 6-digit HS level over the period 1999-2010. In contrast to the conclusions based on the CPI-based real effective exchange rate we find that there are rather pronounced differences between individual markets. As a first and important result, China shows a huge gain in international competitiveness due to non-price factors thus suggesting that the role of Renminbi undervaluation for China’s competitive position may be overstressed. The strong improvements in Russia's non-price competitiveness are exclusively due to developments in the oil sector as are the competitive losses observed for Argentina and Indonesia. Further, Brazil, Chile, India, and Turkey show discernible improvements in their competitive position when accounting for non-price factors while Mexico's competitiveness has deteriorated regardless of the index chosen.
    Keywords: non-price competitiveness, quality, relative export price, emerging countries
    JEL: C43 F12 F14 L15
    Date: 2012–08

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