The Value of a Statistical Life in a Dictatorship: Evidence from Stalin
57 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2018 Last revised: 21 Jul 2018
Date Written: March 13, 2018
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: Suggested Citation