Money, Banks and Finance in Economic Thought

The "Russian Economics" or Economics in Russia: What Was Built on the Ruins of the Soviet Union?

Ostapenko Vsevolod, St. Petersburg State University

Dismantling of the Soviet political system and transition to the market economy in Russia were inevitably accompanied by fundamental changes in spheres of science and education. The long-lasting existence of two key branches in the field of economic thought, namely political economy of capitalism and political economy of socialism, broke off. Russian economists started to rethink their research strategies and paradigms within which they had been operating. This process has not been completed yet. Economics profession in the country remains in the situation of blurring scientific standards and substantial fragmentation of the research area. Many scholars claimed that the most challenging and almost insolvable problem faced by the Russian community of economists after the fall of the Soviet Union was its “division into adherents of modern economics and those who cling to a post-Soviet traditional political economy approach” (Zaostrovtsev, 2005, p. 20). Such a divide is still present and can be characterized using various terminology: universalist vs. nationally-oriented view of economic science (Barnett, 2015) or outward- vs. inward-oriented thought styles (Zweynert, 2018). Our paper takes into rapt consideration the object to which researchers usually refer to when discoursing on this demarcation. The paper extends and augments several seminal pieces on the latest developments in the field of economics in Russia. First, it follows the strand of research on specific features of the national economic science (Muravyev, 2011; Maltsev, 2016; Grigoryev, 2017). Second, it readdresses the big discussion around the legitimacy of separation of the so-called “Russian school of economic thought”. This discussion took place at the beginning of the new millennium and was initiated by one of the patriarchs of the Soviet political economy Leonid Abalkin (the most significant papers on the topic were published in 2002 in “Problems of Economic Transition”, vol. 44, no. 9/10). The key question posed: is there currently a sustained consistent system of analytical methods, scientific approaches and policy conclusions which could represent the national tradition in the Russian economic thought? To put it differently, is there a phenomenon of the “Russian economics”? The alternative hypothesis presumes that the only factor uniting Russian economists is the language used, and in that sense no specific attributes of a school of thought could be outlined. The adjacent issue is identification of the true degree of integration of Russian economists into the global scientific space and its evolution since the beginning of market reforms. For completing this goal I run a quantitative bibliographic analysis of publications of Russian scholars in top international peer-reviewed journals.


Keywords: Russian economic thought, Russian economics, international scientific integration

Paper file