The Causes of Ukrainian Famine Mortality, 1932-33
We construct a large dataset to understand the causes of high Ukrainian mortality during the Great Soviet famine (1932-33). We document that holding per capita grain production, urbanization, and other factors constant, famine mortality rate was increasing in pre-famine ethnic Ukrainian population share across regions, even outside of Ukraine. Government grain procurement as a share of production is also increasing in pre-famine ethnic Ukrainian population share. These and other results imply that Ukrainian bias in Soviet policy was the main contributor to high Ukrainian famine mortality, and rule out alternative explanations such as bad weather or other exogenous factors.
Previously circulated as “The Political-Economic Causes of the Soviet Great Famine, 1932–33.” We thank Daron Acemoglu, Maxim Ananyev, Michael Ellman, Ruben Enikolopov, Jeff Frieden, Scott Gehlbach, Mikhail Golosov, Sergei Guriev, Mark Harrison, Oleg Khlevniuk, Alexey Makarin, Victor Malein, Joel Mokyr, Cormac O’Grada, Gerard Padro-i-Miquel, Steven Nafziger, Maria Petrova, Sakari Saaritsa, Torsten Santavirta, Marco Tabellini, Chris Udry and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya for their insights; the participants of the Harvard/MIT Development Workshop, NYU Development Workshop, LSE Sticerd AppliedWorkshop, Northwestern Economic HistoryWorkshop, Fudan University SOE AppliedWorkshop, Trinity College Applied EconomicsWorkshop, CERGE-EI Applied EconomicsWorkshop, EIEFWorkshop, HECER (Helsinki Center of Economic Research) Labor and Public Economics seminar, Helsinki economic and social history seminar, Northwestern Economic History Lunch, Northwestern Development Lunch, George Mason Economic History Lunch, the NBER Political Economy Workshop, the Ridge Conference, the ASSA/AEA On the Role of and Culture and Community 2020 session, 2020 Summer Workshop in the Economic History and Historical Political Economy of Russia, Kiel/CEPR Conference on Geopolitics. For excellent research assistance, we thank Pavel Bacherikov, Nikita Karpov, Ivan Korolev, Sergio Lopez-Araiza Bejar, Kaman Lyu, Carlo Medici, Ludovica Mosillo. All mistakes are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- Government policies motivated by ethnic bias can account for up to 92 percent of the deaths of ethnic Ukrainians living in Ukraine at...