Social Structure and Development: A Legacy of the Holocaust in Russia
We document a statistical association between the severity of the persecution and mass murder of Jews (the Holocaust) by the Nazis during World War II and long-run economic and political outcomes within Russia. Cities that experienced the Holocaust most intensely have grown less, and cities as well as administrative districts (oblasts) where the Holocaust had the largest impact have worse economic and political outcomes since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although we cannot rule out the possibility that these statistical relationships are caused by other factors, the overall patterns appear generally robust. We provide evidence on one possible mechanism that we hypothesize may link the Holocaust to the present---the change it induced in the social structure, in particular the size of the middle class, across different regions of Russia. Before World War II, Russian Jews were predominantly in white collar (middle class) occupations and the Holocaust appears to have had a large negative effect on the size of the middle class after the war.
We are particularly grateful to Mark Harrison for his help and many suggestions and Omer Bartov for his detailed comments on an earlier draft. We also thank Josh Angrist, Bob Davies, Esther Duflo, Elhanan Helpman, Amy Finkelstein, Tim Guinnane, Lawrence Katz, David Laibson, Jeffrey Liebman, Sergei Maksudov, Joel Mokyr, Cormac Ó Gráda, Kevin O'Rourke, Leandro Prados de la Escosura, four anonymous referees, and seminar participants at Harvard and CIFAR for useful comments. We also thank Elena Abrosimova, Victoria Baranov, Tatyana Bezuglova, Olga Shurchkov and Alexander Teytelboym for excellent research assistance. Tarek Hassan is grateful for financial support from the William A. Ackman Fund for Holocaust Studies and the Warburg Foundation. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Daron Acemoglu & Tarek A. Hassan & James A. Robinson, 2011. "Social Structure and Development: A Legacy of the Holocaust in Russia," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 895-946. citation courtesy of