ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Mar
26

On Pepsi, McDonald’s and the Promised Land

Back in 1991, I attended a big “Does Socialism Have a Future?” conference hosted by my alma mater, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The session I remember most vividly featured a Hungarian dissident, a poet, ridiculing ineffective communist propaganda. “Communists”, he told a sympathetic audience, “tried to convince us that jeans can cause impotence in young males, and that Coca Cola is bad for people’s health”. At this point, a trembling female voice could be heard in the back of the conference hall: “But Coca Cola is bad for people’s health! ◊ ◊ ◊ ...
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Mar
23

Smokers in Post-Soviet Countries: Ill-Informed or Just Irrational?

Tobacco consumption is widely known for its negative effects on health. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, just in the USA an estimated 443,000 people die per year prematurely due to inhaling cigarette smoke. As there are 46 million smokers in the USA, it means that in any given year, the likelihood to “die prematurely” because of one’s smoking habit is almost 1% (under the admittedly strong assumption that these numbers are constant in the long run). If one smokes for 10 years, the probability that one’s life will be cut shor...
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Nov
07

From Soviet to Post-Soviet Consumerism

In a sense, life was relatively simple back in the Soviet Union days. Consumers had few choices, and material aspirations were limited to the unholy trinity of “apartment, car and dacha”. That said, homo Sovieticus spent enormous amounts of time and energy in chasing material goods ranging from potatoes to nylon stockings and cars. A part of Soviet consumer behavior was about satisfying basic needs (as in the potatoes example above). But there was a discernible element of conspicuous consumption as well. Possession of a luxurious Pobeda car was deemed an...
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