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Dictators, Repression and the Median Citizen: An “Eliminations Model” of Stalin’s Terror (Data from the NKVD Archives)

  • Paul R. Gregory

    (University of Houston and Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

  • Philipp J.H. Schr oder

    (Aarhus School of Business, Denmark)

  • Konstantin Sonin

    ()

    (CEFIR/NES)

This paper sheds light on dictatorial behavior as exemplified by the mass terror campaigns of Stalin. Dictatorships – unlike democracies where politicians choose platforms in view of voter preferences – may attempt to trim their constituency and thus ensure regime survival via the large scale elimination of citizens. We formalize this idea in a simple model and use it to examine Stalin’s three large scale terror campaigns with data from the NKVD state archives that are accessible after more than 60 years of secrecy. Our model traces the stylized facts of Stalin’s terror and identifies parameters such as the ability to correctly identify regime enemies, the actual or perceived number of enemies in the population, and how secure the dictators power base is, as crucial for the patterns and scale of repression.

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Paper provided by Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR) in its series Working Papers with number w0091.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cfr:cefirw:w0091
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  1. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
  2. Casey B. Mulligan & Ricard Gil & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2004. "Do democracies have different public policies than non-democracies?," Discussion Papers 0304-14, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  3. Jody Overland, Kenneth Simons and Michael Spagat, 2003. "Political Instability and Growth in Dictatorships," Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics 03/11, Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, revised Dec 2003.
  4. Valery Lazarev, 2005. "Economics of One-Party State: Promotion Incentives and Support for the Soviet Regime1," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 47(2), pages 346-363, June.
  5. Eugenia Belova & Paul Gregory, 2009. "Political economy of crime and punishment under Stalin," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 463-478, September.
  6. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "The Curley Effect," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1956, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521855266 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Edward L. Glaeser, 2005. "The Curley Effect: The Economics of Shaping the Electorate," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-19, April.
  9. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521794497 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Lazarev, Valery, 2007. "Political labor market, government policy, and stability of a non-democratic regime," MPRA Paper 2352, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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