DP12814 The Value of a Statistical Life in a Dictatorship: Evidence from Stalin

Author(s): Castaneda Dower, Andrei Markevich, Shlomo Weber
Publication Date: March 2018
Keyword(s): Autocracy, Dictatorship, Great Terror, Stalin, Value of a Statistical Life
JEL(s): I30, J17, N44, P51
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12814

We examine the value of a statistical life (VSL) in inter-war Soviet Union. Our approach requires to address 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 $43,151, roughly 6% of the VSL estimate in 1940's US and 29% of the VSL estimate in modern India.