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CEP/STICERD Applications Seminars

The Political-Economic Causes of the Soviet Great Famine, 1932-33

Nancy Qian (Yale University)

Monday 28 March 2022 16:00 - 17:30

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.


About this event

This study constructs a large dataset with newly collected archival data to investigate the causes of Ukrainian mortality during the Soviet Famine, 1932-33. First, we document that the regime set higher grain production targets and planned to procure a higher share of production from regions with more ethnic Ukrainians, and that these areas resisted Soviet agricultural policies more than those with fewer Ukrainians. Second, we document that areas with more ethnic Ukrainians suffered disproportionally high mortality rates during the famine. This was true across the Soviet Union, even outside of the republic of Ukraine; and cannot be explained by natural conditions or earlier political, economic, demographic, cultural features. Third, we show that the systematically targeting of Ukrainians was isolated to agriculturally productive areas; other political factors cannot explain the repression of Ukrainians. The empirical results support the view that the Bolsheviks repressed Ukrainians in order to control grain and rejects the most prominent alternative explanations. We interpret the results with the Esteban, Morelli and Rohner (2014) framework to understand the economic fundamentals under which repression is the equilibrium strategy. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that bias against Ukrainians explains up to 77% of famine deaths in the three republics of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and up to 92% in Ukraine.

Applications (Applied Micro) Seminars are held on Mondays in term time at 12:00-13:30 in 3.05 in person.

Seminar organiser: Jörn-Steffen Pischke

For further information please contact Lubala Chibwe, either by email: l.chibwe@lse.ac.uk.

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