Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Economics and Finance

Committee Chair(s)

Diana Thomas


Diana Thomas


Ryan Bosworth


Dwight Israelsen


The objective of Daniel Brilliant’s research is to explore the relationship between culture and economic prosperity in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. Learning why some of these countries do better than others is of interest in discovering what causes a country’s economy to grow in general. Knowing the causes of economic growth helps in determining what policies, if any, can be adopted by a country to help promote economic growth. Some have theorized that government policies are at the heart of prosperity. Others have speculated that cultural factors play a large role in determining if such policies will be effective.

This study expands upon research performed in the development economics literature by adding data from countries which have been historically excluded. Earlier studies usually omitted these transitioning economies due to a lack of available data, but as time goes on data becomes more and more accessible. The major contribution of this paper in terms of data collection is the incorporation of measures used to gauge judicial power from the social sciences literature to fill gaps in the economics literature data.

The analysis suggests that certain cultural measures which are used in development economics literature are not significant contributors to the divergence in economic outcomes in Eastern Europe. In light of this, future research should look to other sources to understand what drives economic prosperity in Eastern Europe and perhaps in the world at large.


Publication made available electronically February 2, 2012.

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