Enemies of the People

Gerhard Toews (New Economic School)
Pierre-Louis Vezina (King's College London)

Abstract: Enemies of the people were the millions of intellectuals, artists, businessmen, politicians, professors, landowners, scientists, and auent peasants that were thought a threat to the Soviet regime and were sent to the Gulag, i.e. the system of forced labor camps throughout the Soviet Union. In this paper we look at the long-run consequences of this dark re-location episode. We show that areas around camps with a larger share of enemies among prisoners are more prosperous today, as captured by night lights per capita, firm productivity, wages, and education. Our results point in the direction of a long-run persistence of skills and a resulting positive effect on local economic outcomes via human capital channels.

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