Fighting for Tyranny: State Repression and Combat Motivation
41 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2022 Last revised: 23 Jan 2023
Date Written: December 9, 2022
We utilize over 100 million declassified Red Army personnel records from World War II to study how state repression shapes soldiers’ motivation to exert effort in fighting. Exploiting multiple complementary identification strategies, we find that soldiers from places with higher levels of pre-war repression under Stalin’s rule were more likely to fight until death and less likely to shirk their duties, but they also received fewer decorations for personal bravery. The coercive incentives created by repression appear to have induced obedience at the expense of initiative and increased the human costs of war.
Keywords: repression, war, state, extrinsic motivation
JEL Classification: D74, F51, H56, N44
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation