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CEP/STICERD Applications Seminars

The Political-Economic Causes of the Soviet Great Famine, 1932-33

Nancy Qian (Yale University)

Monday 28 March 2022 16:00 - 17:30

This event is both online and in person

SAL 3.05, 3rd Floor Conference Room, Sir Arthur Lewis Building, LSE, 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PH

About this event

This study constructs a large dataset with newly collected archival data to investigate the causes of Ukrainian mortality during the Soviet Famine, 1932-33. First, we document that the regime set higher grain production targets and planned to procure a higher share of production from regions with more ethnic Ukrainians, and that these areas resisted Soviet agricultural policies more than those with fewer Ukrainians. Second, we document that areas with more ethnic Ukrainians suffered disproportionally high mortality rates during the famine. This was true across the Soviet Union, even outside of the republic of Ukraine; and cannot be explained by natural conditions or earlier political, economic, demographic, cultural features. Third, we show that the systematically targeting of Ukrainians was isolated to agriculturally productive areas; other political factors cannot explain the repression of Ukrainians. The empirical results support the view that the Bolsheviks repressed Ukrainians in order to control grain and rejects the most prominent alternative explanations. We interpret the results with the Esteban, Morelli and Rohner (2014) framework to understand the economic fundamentals under which repression is the equilibrium strategy. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that bias against Ukrainians explains up to 77% of famine deaths in the three republics of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and up to 92% in Ukraine.

Participants are expected to adhere to the CEP Events Code of Conduct.


This event will take place in SAL 3.05, 3rd Floor Conference Room, Sir Arthur Lewis Building, LSE, 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PH.

The building is labelled SAL on the LSE campus map. You can also find us on Google Maps. For further information, go to contact us.

This series is part of the CEP's Labour Markets programme.