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

Publication Date

03/24/2018

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Abstract

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.