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Rational dictators and the killing of innocents: Data from Stalin's archives

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  • Gregory, Paul R.
  • Schröder, Philipp J.H.
  • Sonin, Konstantin

Abstract

We posit a rational choice model of dictatorship to explain the tendency of dictators to repress innocent citizens. This model demonstrates that, when the quality of information about regime enemies is low, a rational dictator will knowingly kill and imprison citizens who are not real enemies. We use the formerly secret Stalin archives to test this proposition against the stylized facts of Stalin's three major repressions.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregory, Paul R. & Schröder, Philipp J.H. & Sonin, Konstantin, 2011. "Rational dictators and the killing of innocents: Data from Stalin's archives," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 34-42, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:39:y:2011:i:1:p:34-42
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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "The Curley Effect," NBER Working Papers 8942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mark Harrison, 2016. "Fact and Fantasy in Soviet Records:The Documentation of Soviet Party and Secret Police Investigations as Historical Evidence," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 263, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. Miller, Marcus & Smith, Jennifer C., 2015. "In the shadow of the Gulag: Worker discipline under Stalin," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 531-548.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2015. "Political Economy in a Changing World," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(5), pages 1038-1086.
    4. Gehlbach, Scott & Keefer, Philip, 2011. "Investment without democracy: Ruling-party institutionalization and credible commitment in autocracies," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 123-139, June.
    5. Harrison, Mark, 2011. "Secrecy, Fear and Transaction Costs: The Business of Soviet Forced Labour in the Early Cold War," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 47, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    6. Xue, Melanie Meng & Koyama, Mark, 2018. "Autocratic Rule and Social Capital: Evidence from Imperial China," MPRA Paper 84249, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. repec:cge:wacage:2018 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Ferrero, Mario, 2013. "Extermination as a substitute for assimilation or deportation: an economic approach," POLIS Working Papers 174, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
    9. Dmitriy Vorobyev, 2010. "Growth of Electoral Fraud in Non-Democracies: The Role of Uncertainty," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp420, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    10. Yuri M. Zhukov, 2014. "Theory of Indiscriminate Violence," Working Paper 365551, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    11. Koyama, Mark & Xue, Melanie Meng, 2015. "The Literary Inquisition: The Persecution of Intellectuals and Human Capital Accumulation in China," MPRA Paper 62103, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Andrei Markevich, 2007. "The Dictator’s Dilemma: to Punish or to Assist? Plan Failures and Interventions under Stalin," Working Papers w0107, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dictatorial systems Stalinism Soviet State and Party archives NKVD OPGU;

    JEL classification:

    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-
    • P00 - Economic Systems - - General - - - General
    • P26 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Political Economy

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