The Value of a Statistical Life in a Dictatorship: Evidence from Stalin

57 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2018 Last revised: 21 Jul 2018

Paul Castañeda Dower

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Andrei Markevich

New Economic School

Shlomo Weber

Southern Methodist University (SMU) - Department of Economics; New Economic School

Date Written: March 13, 2018

Abstract

We examine the value of a statistical life (VSL) in interwar Soviet Union. Our approach requires addressing the preferences of Stalin. We model these on the basis of the policy of statistical repression, which was an integral part of the Great Terror. We use regional variation in the victims generated by this policy to structurally estimate the value that Stalin would have been willing to accept for a reduction in citizens’ fatality risk. Our estimate of this value is $43,000, roughly 6% of the VSL estimate in the US in 1940 and 29% of the VSL estimate in modern India.

Keywords: Value of a Statistical Life, Autocracy, Dictatorship, Stalin, Great Terror

JEL Classification: J17, I30, N44, P51

Suggested Citation

Castañeda Dower, Paul and Markevich, Andrei and Weber, Shlomo, The Value of a Statistical Life in a Dictatorship: Evidence from Stalin (March 13, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3144676 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3144676

Paul Castañeda Dower

University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )

Madison
Madison, WI 53705

Andrei Markevich (Contact Author)

New Economic School ( email )

100 Novaya Street
Skolkovo
Moscow, 143025
Russia
+79629851892 (Phone)
+74991293722 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://fir.nes.ru/en/people/professors/Pages/amarkevich.aspx

Shlomo Weber

Southern Methodist University (SMU) - Department of Economics ( email )

Dallas, TX 75275
United States
214-768-3577 (Phone)
214-768-1821 (Fax)

New Economic School ( email )

Moscow
Russia
+ 7-495-9569508 (Phone)

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