Dictators, Repression and the Median Citizen: An 'Eliminations Model' of Stalin's Terror (Data from the NKVD Archives)

35 Pages Posted: 8 May 2007

See all articles by Paul R. Gregory

Paul R. Gregory

University of Houston - Department of Economics; Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace

Philipp J. H. Schröder

Aarhus University - Faculty of Business Administration

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy; Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2006

Abstract

This paper sheds light on dictatorial behavior as exemplified by the mass terror campaigns of Stalin. Dictatorships - unlike democracies where politicians choose platforms in view of voter preferences - may attempt to trim their constituency and thus ensure regime survival via the large scale elimination of citizens. We formalize this idea in a simple model and use it to examine Stalin's three large scale terror campaigns with data from the NKVD state archives that are accessible after more than 60 years of secrecy. Our model traces the stylized facts of Stalin's terror and identifies parameters such as the ability to correctly identify regime enemies, the actual or perceived number of enemies in the population, and how secure the dictator's power base is, as crucial for the patterns and scale of repression.

Keywords: Dictatorial systems, NKVD, OPGU, Soviet State and Party archives, Stalinism

JEL Classification: N44, P00, P26

Suggested Citation

Gregory, Paul R. and Schröder, Philipp J. H. and Sonin, Konstantin, Dictators, Repression and the Median Citizen: An 'Eliminations Model' of Stalin's Terror (Data from the NKVD Archives) (December 2006). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 6014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=984534

Paul R. Gregory (Contact Author)

University of Houston - Department of Economics ( email )

Houston, TX 77204-5882
United States
713-743-3828 (Phone)
713-661-1968 (Fax)

Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States

Philipp J. H. Schröder

Aarhus University - Faculty of Business Administration ( email )

Haslegaardsvej 10
DK-8210 Aarhus, 8210
Denmark

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Higher School of Economics ( email )

20 Myasnitskaya street
Moscow, 119017
Russia

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
6
Abstract Views
1,494
PlumX Metrics