CREES Honorary Fellow wins prestigious prize

Posted on Monday 2nd April 2012

Professor Mark Harrison, Honorary Fellow of CREES, has been awarded the Russian National Prize for Applied Economics in recognition of research that filled the last remaining gap in the national income records of 20th --Century Russia. Professor Harrison, of the Department of Economics at Warwick University, shares the prize with Andrei Markevich, an assistant professor at the New Economic School in Moscow and an associate fellow of Warwick's Department of Economics.

The two received the prize for their work in generating estimates of the real national income of Russia and the USSR over the years from 1913 through 1928, a period of enormous human and economic tragedy. These turbulent 15 years included Russia’s Great War, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Civil War and post-war reconstruction years that set the stage for Joseph Stalin's forced industrialization campaign. The period marked the deepest economic collapse of Russia's troubled 20th--Century history. The human toll, in terms of lives lost, was exceeded only by the casualties the nation incurred during World War II.

The pair undertook the complex task of calculating Russia’s national income year by year - an endeavour complicated by incomplete and poor-quality data, and by boundary changes that took place over the period. Their work showed that Russia’s economic performance up until the revolution in 1917 was better than was previously thought. After that, a combination of revolutionary mobilization and civil war drove the economy down to the level of the poorest countries in the world today, not seen in Europe since the Middle Ages.

The Russian National Prize for Applied Economics is awarded every second year by a consortium of Russian universities, institutes and journals.

Professor Harrison is an economic historian who specializes in Soviet affairs. He was one of the first Western economists to work in the Russian archives following the fall of the Soviet Union. His work has provided new understanding about the Russian and Soviet economy for mainstream economics and economic history. His current work examines the political economy of Soviet secrecy.

Their award-winning research paper, "Great War, Civil War, and Recovery: Russia's National Income, 1913 to 1928," was published in the Journal of Economic History in September. A postprint is available at http://goo.gl/ua8cM.