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Social Structure and Development: A Legacy of the Holocaust in Russia


  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Tarek A. Hassan
  • James A. Robinson


We document a statistical association between the severity of the persecution and mass murder of Jews (the Holocaust) by the Nazis during World War II and long-run economic and political outcomes within Russia. Cities that experienced the Holocaust most intensely have grown less, and cities as well as administrative districts (oblasts) where the Holocaust had the largest impact have worse economic and political outcomes since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although we cannot rule out the possibility that these statistical relationships are caused by other factors, the overall patterns appear generally robust. We provide evidence on one possible mechanism that we hypothesize may link the Holocaust to the present---the change it induced in the social structure, in particular the size of the middle class, across different regions of Russia. Before World War II, Russian Jews were predominantly in white collar (middle class) occupations and the Holocaust appears to have had a large negative effect on the size of the middle class after the war.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & Tarek A. Hassan & James A. Robinson, 2010. "Social Structure and Development: A Legacy of the Holocaust in Russia," NBER Working Papers 16083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16083
    Note: DAE POL AG

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nathan Nunn, 2008. "The Long-term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 139-176.
    2. Gérard Roland, 2004. "Transition and Economics: Politics, Markets, and Firms," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026268148x, January.
    3. Botticini, Maristella & Eckstein, Zvi, 2005. "Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions, or Minorities?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 922-948, December.
    4. Acemoglu,Daron & Robinson,James A., 2009. "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671422, May.
    5. Davies,R. W., 1998. "Soviet Economic Development from Lenin to Khrushchev," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521622608, May.
    6. Anderson, T. W. & Hsiao, Cheng, 1982. "Formulation and estimation of dynamic models using panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 47-82, January.
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    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism


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