Soviet Russia’s industrialisation was a pivotal episode in the 20th century, and economic historians have spent decades debating the role of Stalin’s policies in bringing it about. This column argues that Stalin’s industrialisation was disastrous even in purely economic terms. The brutal policy of collectivisation devastated productivity, both in manufacturing and in agriculture. The massive welfare losses in the years 1928-40 outweighed any hypothetical gains from Stalin’s policies after 1940, and Russia would have been better off under a continuation of the ‘New Economic Policy’.
Anton Cheremukhin, Mikhail Golosov, Sergei Guriev, Aleh Tsyvinski, 10 October 2013
Mark Harrison, Andrei Markevich, 11 May 2012
At the start of the 1920s, Russia’s economy suffered the greatest economic catastrophe of a turbulent 20th century. This column argues that measuring this experience yields lessons for the relationship between state capacity, government policies, and economic development.
Konstantin Sonin, 31 October 2008
Stalin’s mass killings are often viewed as the acts of a deranged dictator. But according to Konstantin Sonin of the New Economic School in Moscow, such violence may have reflected the Soviet leader’s rational efforts to avoid losing power. In an interview with Romesh Vaitilingam, recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Milan in August 2008, he discusses his research and its implications for thinking about modern day dictators.
Konstantin Sonin, 09 August 2008
Stalin’s mass killings are often viewed as the acts of a deranged dictator. This column suggests that such violence may have been the Soviet leader’s rational attempt to avoid losing power in a revolution.
Marcus Miller, Jennifer Smith, 10 January 2008
In capitalist economies, firms pay higher wages to motivate workers who fear unemployment. In Soviet Russia, Stalin used the Gulag to discipline workers. The economic rationale of the ‘efficiency wage’ model helps explain the cruel brutality of Stalin’s prison camps.