Social Structure and Development: A Legacy of the Holocaust in Russia
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Tarek A. Hassan
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
James A. Robinson
Harvard University - Department of Government; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
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 both cities and 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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 63
Keywords: economic development, political development, Holocaust, middle class
JEL Classification: O11, P16, N40working papers series
Date posted: March 19, 2009 ; Last revised: June 8, 2010
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