I've been racking my brains trying to think of something interesting to say about the Finnish economy for our ongoing Finnlter^ series, and have finally realised: Finland is interesting, not necessarily for what it is, but also for what it is not. Curiously, the relative moribund nature of Finland is a powerful reminder of the effect of comparative economic systems. According to Mart Laar*:
In 1939, it was hard to find two more similar countries as Finland and Estonia. We were very similar in language, culture, and living standards. Our economies were more or less the same. Then in 1940, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union and Finland successfully protected its independence. Look at what happened in this context during these fifty years and then you can understand how terrible the communist system really is. And it’s not only in the economy. This is in all fields of life—the social structure, cultural standards, education, healthcare, or whatever. When you compare those two countries, which were exactly the same in 1939[,] in 1989, then you will find what communism really means, and how bad it is. Our economy, our nature, and our environment was [sic] destroyed
The use of Finland and Estonia as a natural experiment has also been made by Robert Higgs, in his series of "Experiments in Political Economy" for the Independent Review. His conclusion**:
their economic and social differences grew so large that no informed person could honestly dispute the pernicious effect that communist rule had on occupied Estonia.
* Laar, Mart. 2006. Exporting Hope: An Interview with Mart Laar. Religion and Liberty: A Journal of
** Higgs,Robert "Results of Still Another Experiment in Political Economy" The Independent Review Volume 12 Number 1 Summer 2007) Religion, Economics, and Culture 16 (fall):3,12–13. p.12