Michael S. Bernstam

Research Fellow

Michael S. Bernstam, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, is an economic demographer who studies the centrality of income redistribution for the taxonomy and evolution of economic systems, long-run economic growth, demographic transition, social revolutions, conflict, and other social changes.

The focus of his work in the past ten years has been on the causes of economic growth and contraction in former central plan economies, with special emphasis on Russia, China, and the former East Germany, and how to reconcile them with earlier global experience. To this end, he is at work on the book From Predation to Prosperity: How to Move from Socialism to Markets (with Alvin Rabushka). Several chapters of this book, as well as numerous articles and commentaries on the subject, are posted at www.russiaeconomy.org, a web site created jointly by Bernstam and Rabushka.

Bernstam's previous books include Fixing Russia's Banks: A Proposal for Growth, with Alvin Rabushka (Hoover Institution Press, 1998); Inter-Enterprise Debt and the Russian Coal Sector, with Thomas E. MaCurdy (Partners in Economic Reform for the USAID, 1996); and Reform without Shock, with Vladimir Leksin (Supreme Economic Council of Russia, 1992).

Bernstam's other major publications include Resources, Environment, and Population: Present Knowledge, Future Options, with Kingsley Davis (Oxford University Press, 1991); The Wealth of Nations and the Environment (Institute of Economic Affairs, 1991); Malthus and the Evolution of the Welfare State, with Peter L. Swan (University of New South Wales, 1989); and Below-Replacement Fertility in Industrial Societies: Causes and Consequences, with Kingsley Davis and Rita Ricardo-Campbell (Cambridge University Press, 1986). He has also authored numerous articles, papers, and book chapters.

Bernstam served as visiting professor of economics at Monash University, Victoria, Australia, in 1989 and as an adjunct professor in Stanford University's Overseas Studies Program in 1997–99.

During 1991–95, Bernstam served as economic adviser to the Russian Parliament, the Central Bank of Russia, and the Russian government on several policy projects. He is a regular commentator on the Russian economy and finance for Radio Liberty, Voice of America, and the BBC.

His research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

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Recent Commentary

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A Nehru Escape

by Michael S. Bernstamvia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 20, 2018

During a 1955 visit to Moscow, the Indian premier inadvertently launched a dating revolution. How Jawaharlal Nehru caused young Russians to rejoice.

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Immigration that Pays Off

by Michael S. Bernstamvia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 26, 2018

A novel idea to make immigration policy both fair and market-driven: require entrants to post "integration bonds."

Analysis and Commentary

Nehru, The Patron Saint Of Soviet Sexual Liberation?

by Michael S. Bernstamvia The Wire
Saturday, November 18, 2017

In the early 1950s, urban social life in the Soviet Union was constrained, with few opportunities for young people to meet and date. But that changed after Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit in 1955.

Analysis and Commentary

Immigration And Integration By The Market

by Michael S. Bernstamvia Forbes
Friday, September 15, 2017

Milton Friedman noted that free immigration is incompatible with the welfare state. Decades of experience in the U.S. and Europe make a case. It is impossible to combine free immigration, access to welfare state subsidies, and national integration. This is an impossible trinity. Any two of the three are possible but not all three.

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Inconvenient Math?

by Michael S. Bernstamvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 24, 2017

On climate change, the uncertainties multiply—literally. 

Analysis and Commentary

How To Win The New Cold War Without Firing A Shot

by Michael S. Bernstamvia Forbes
Monday, December 19, 2016

A note to Russian leaders: Do not fight with a country whose currency you use as a reserve currency to maintain your own. It can ruin you in hours without firing a shot. In today’s electronic world, your foreign exchange (FX) reserves do not exist in physical form. They are electronic book entries in your Central Bank’s accounts with the Federal Reserve System and other Western central banks.


The European Delusion

by Michael S. Bernstamvia Forbes
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Brexit or not, the European Union is unsustainable.

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Tear Up the Map

by Michael S. Bernstamvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 18, 2016

The borders of the Middle East are unworkable. What if we drew them all over again?

Analysis and Commentary

Redraw Country Lines In The Middle East

by Michael S. Bernstamvia Forbes
Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Middle East is unraveling. The artificial borders drawn by Europeans after World War I are dissolving along ethnic, tribal and religious lines.

Healthcare warning
Analysis and Commentary

The Impossible Trinity of ObamaCare

by Michael S. Bernstamvia FoxNews.com
Monday, December 16, 2013

The ultimate problem with ObamaCare is that it cannot be affordable for all, cannot be comprehensive, and cannot be universal.  


From Predation to Prosperity: How to Move from Socialism to Markets

From Predation to Prosperity

This book starts with the experience of Russia since the end of central planning. It covers the great contraction of 1992-98 and the subsequent recovery in 1999-2006. It offers and empirically supports a uniform explanation of both the contraction and the recovery.

The Russian Economy