Political Shocks and Economic Reform in the Post-Soviet World
thesisposted on 03.12.2019, 17:11 authored by Philip Evan HusomPhilip Evan Husom
This dissertation analyzes the adoption of neoliberal economic policies in the wake of two shocks, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Color Revolutions. I look at whether policy choices in the aftermath of massive political change significantly constrain future economic policy. Two arguments have attempted to explain post-Soviet economic reform, one arguing that initial elections largely determined economic reform, and another arguing that even the results of initial elections were conditioned by a state's neighbors and diffusion. In the first chapter I test these arguments, using regression analysis to update and reanalyze determinants of economic reform in post-Soviet Eurasia. My results indicate that initial elections may have been influential in the short term, but their influence is indirect. Instead, the Soviet collapse created an opening for the establishment of patronage dynamics, and it is these dynamics that largely determine the timing of economic reform. I then use three cases to illustrate why early evaluations of post-Soviet economic reforms need revision. Analysis of Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan after each shock demonstrates that elites and political institutions are important determinants of reforms, and there is significant variation in neoliberal policy adoption that previous arguments do not explain. I find that economic policy mirrors political cycles of patronalism in these countries and the effects of shocks on policy are not straightforward. When economic reform does occur, it is often an instrument used to advance other political goals.