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Tolerating Economic Reform: Popular Support for Transition to a Free Market in the Former Soviet Union

Raymond M. Duch
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 87, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 590-608
DOI: 10.2307/2938738
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2938738
Page Count: 19
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Tolerating Economic Reform: Popular Support for Transition to a Free Market in the Former Soviet Union
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Abstract

The mass public in the Soviet Union is not enthusiastic about free-market reform. How, then, do citizens in a former communist regime develop an appreciation for free-market reforms? Different explanations for attitudes toward free market reforms are tested using data from a survey of the European USSR conducted in May 1990. First, negative assessments of recent economic performance is a catalyst for popular support for the market economy. Although very underdeveloped, there is a nascent free-market culture in the Soviet Union that makes a modest contribution to support for free-market reforms. The free-market culture that is developing in the former Soviet Union resembles that of social democracy, rather than laissez-faire capitalism. Democratic values and support for free markets are mutually reinforcing, suggesting that support for democracy makes a very important contribution to support for free-market reform.

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