A dataset on human capital in the former Soviet Union area: Sources, methods, and first results

Didenko, D., Foldvari, P. and van Leeuwen, B.

To date, the rise and fall of the (former) USSR has triggered a lot of research. Many have focused on the accumulation of physical capital, growth, and consumption. Recently, also the accumulation of human capital has increasingly been incorporated in this picture. However, few datasets exist that cover this crucial variable for this vast area. Therefore, our main objective is to introduce a new dataset that contains human capital related time series for the USSR (and the Newly Independent States (NIS) after its dissolution), constructed mostly on an annual basis. These data were drawn from various primary sources, available datasets and secondary literature where our focus was on constructing a dataset as clear, transparent and consistent as possible. It is our hope that, by supplying these data in electronic format, it will significantly advance quantitative economic history research on Russia and all over the former Soviet Union area (FSU) and will inspire further research in various new fields relating to intellectual production. The data presented in this paper follow after the discussion of the information value of the primary sources utilised, and the various problems that arose when linking and splicing the data from various sources. After constructing series of human capital indicators we perform a time-series and spatial analysis in order to identify the long-term trends of education penetration and of the human capital development in the FSU area with a strong emphasis on inequality issues between the NIS. Applying these results in a simple growth accounting framework provides us with some preliminary insights on the role of human capital in economic development in the FSU area.