The 1947 Soviet Famine and the Entitlement Approach to Famines
Posted: 22 Sep 2001
This paper presents an analysis of the economics of the 1947 Soviet famine, using data from recently declassified archives. It is argued that the best estimate that can currently be given of the number of excess deaths in the range 1.0-1.5 million. The demographic loss was greater. During the famine, surplus stocks in the hands of the state seem to have been sufficient to have fed all those who died of starvation. The famine was a FAD2 (preventable food availability decline) famine, which occurred because a drought caused a bad harvest and hence reduced food availability, but, had the priorities of the government been different, there might have been no famine (or a much smaller one) despite the drought. The selection of victims can be understood in terms of the entitlement approach.
Keywords: Famine, USSR, Entitlement, Availability, Grain
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