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According to the consensus view, it was primarily physical capital accumulation that drove economic growth during the early years of state socialism. Growth models incorporating both human and physical capital accumulation led to the conclusion that a high physical/human capital ratio can cause a lower economic growth in the long run, hence offering an explanation for the failure of socialist economies. In this paper, we show theoretically and empirically that according to the logic of the socialist planner, it was optimal to achieve a higher physical to human capital ratio in socialist countries than in the West. Using a VAR analysis, we find empirical confirmation that within the Material Product System of national accounting, the relative dominance of investment in physical capital accumulation relative to human capital was indeed more efficient than under the system of national accounts.

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Acta Oeconomica
Bas van Leeuwen
Aurelian-Petruş Plopeanu
, and
Peter Foldvari

The number of books published in a country reflects its economic, social and cultural development. Yet, all too often, the production of books is looked upon solely in economic terms, i.e. as a part of national income, or as a proxy for human capital which, in turn, might explain economic growth. In this paper, we aim to give books their day in court. Using a dataset with book titles per 1,000 inhabitants for a large number of countries since 1950, we find that the number of titles was mainly driven by the level of education and income in the lower quantiles. The reduction of printing after 1990 was, surprisingly, not caused by a rise in other media, such as the internet, but, mostly, by a reduction in the effect of education in the poorer countries.

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