The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Material Balances

  • Gregory Grossman
Reference work entry


A material balance is a simple planning device developed (if not originated) early in Soviet planning for the purpose of equating prospective availabilities of a given good and its prospective requirements over the plan period (or at some target date in case of a stock). It occupies a central role in Soviet-type planning. The phrase, a literal rendering of the Russian materialnyi balans, is somewhat inexact and possibly confusing inasmuch as each of the two words has a variety of meanings in English. A more exact term would be ‘sources-and-uses account’ for a flow or ‘balance sheet’ for a stock. As such, material balances have counterparts in planning and management the world over.


Command economy Material balances Planning 

JEL Classifications

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  1. Levine, H.S. 1959. The centralized planning of supply in Soviet industry. In Comparison of the United States and soviet economies I, ed. U.S. Congress, Joint Economic Committee. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  2. Montias, J.M. 1959. Planning with material balances in Soviet-type economies. American Economic Review 49: 963–985.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory Grossman
    • 1
  1. 1.