Barsov, Alexander Alexandrovich

views updated


(19211991), Soviet economist.

Alexander Alexandrovich Barsov (b. Shparlinsky) served in World War II in frontline intelligence as a military interpreter and translator and was awarded a number of decorations. From 1965 to 1989 he was a senior researcher at the Institute of Economics of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Author of a number of publications, he was best known for his 1969 book Balans stoimostnykh obmenov mezhdu gorodom i derevnei (The Balance of Payments between the Town and the Countryside), in which he argues against the assumption, widespread in the West, that the huge increase in investment in the USSR in the First Five-Year Plan had been financed by an increase in unequal exchange between town and countryside. The underlying statistical basis for his argument was the Soviet national accounts for the period from 1928 to 1930a landmark in the history of national income accounting. These were then unpublished archival documents.

According to Barsov, there was unequal exchange between agriculture and industry during the First Five-Year Plan, but this unequal exchange did not increase. Hence the resources for the huge increase in investment in the First Five-Year Plan were not provided by an increase in the agricultural surplus. Barsov's work directed attention to the fall in urban real wages as a source of investment resources. In addition, it led to increased recognition of the interdependence of the agricultural and industrial sectors. It also led to a lively debate in the West about the economics of collectivization.

See also: agriculture; five-year plans; industrialization, soviet


Ellman, Michael. (1975). "Did the Agricultural Surplus Provide the Resources for the Increase in Investment in the USSR during the First Five Year Plan?" Economic Journal 85:844863. Reprinted in Ellman, Michael. (1984). Collectivisation, Convergence, and Capitalism. London: Academic Press.

Hunter, Holland, and Szyrmer, Janusz M. (1992). Faulty Foundations: Soviet Economic Policies, 19281940. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Karshenas, Massoud. (1995). Industrialization and Agricultural Surplus: A Comparative Study of Economic Development in Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Millar, James, R. (1974). "Mass Collectivization and the Contribution of Soviet Agriculture to the First Five Year Plan." Slavic Review 33:750766.

Wheatcroft, Stephen G., and Davies, Robert W., eds. (1985). Materials for a Balance of the Soviet National Economy, 19281930. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Michael Ellman