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The transition to capitalism in China and Russia

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Chapter Summary

Despite some attempts, neither China nor Russia succeeded in establishing the rule of law, which is a prerequisite for safe property rights, economic freedom and incentives to work productively. Compared to Russia, however, China is a fairly safe country. Establishing good government has always been easier in China than in Russia, because Chinese society is ethnically more homogeneous than Russian society. Economic reforms and the transition to capitalism increased income inequality in both societies. Russia faces two obstacles to stable, effective and growth-promoting government, i.e., ethnic heterogeneity and inequality, and China merely one of them. Whereas China - like Japan before it - has succeeded in making nationalism an engine of growth, Russian nationalism always focused on the acquisition of territory and great power rhetoric, but never put the idea of becoming a rich country and a global economic powerhouse high on its political agenda.

Keywords: capitalism; China; economic freedom; economic reforms; incentives; nationalism; Russia; safe property rights



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