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Study finds echoes of the Holocaust in Russias economy, politics
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Study finds echoes of the Holocaust in Russias economy, politics

A detailed new analysis of seven decades of Soviet and Russian data has revealed that Russian cities and regions whose Jewish populations bore the brunt of the Nazi Holocaust have seen lower economic growth and wages.


Cambridge (Massachusetts, US), June 18 : A detailed new analysis of seven decades of Soviet and Russian data has revealed that Russian cities and regions whose Jewish populations bore the brunt of the Nazi Holocaust have seen lower economic growth and wages.

Political scientists and economists at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business prepared the study.

"The Holocaust wiped out many of the most educated and productive people in western Russia," says co-author James A. Robinson, the David Florence Professor of Government at Harvard.

Robinson added: "It was a major shock to the social structure of the invaded regions, dramatically reducing the size of the Russian middle class. While there is a broad body of literature on the psychological effects of the Holocaust, there has been almost no study of the long-term economic and political impact on the societies left behind."

Most historians believe a million Soviet Jews perished in the Holocaust, as the German army thrust into Soviet territory in 1941, followed by paramilitary death squads which systematically eradicated Jewish populations.

Robinson and co-authors Daron Acemoglu of MIT and Tarek A. Hassan of Chicago Booth found that the killing of Jews in the Holocaust appears to have hurt many Russian cities and regions by permanently reducing the size of the middle class in the affected areas.

Their analysis shows that Jews, despite being a small minority, made up a disproportionate share of the Russian middle class.

Before World War II, 67 percent of Russian Jews held white collar jobs, compared to only about 15 percent of non-Jews. In some of the invaded areas, 70 percent of physicians and many of those in high-skill jobs in trade and education were Jews.

In a five-year effort, the researchers combed over census and other data from across Russia, comparing economic and political outcomes in areas never occupied by the Nazis, those occupied with large Jewish populations, and those occupied with small Jewish populations.

In the 11 Russian oblasts (administrative districts) most affected by the Holocaust, the Jewish population declined by an average 39 percent between 1939 and 1959.

These areas now have markedly lower per-capita gross domestic product and lower average wages: Average GDP per capita was just 4,555 dollars in 2002, compared with a nationwide average of 5,855 dollars.

While the correlation between economic and political outcomes and the decline in Jewish population is a strong one, Robinson cautions that the relationship may be influenced by other factors.

He said the study should not be seen as the final word on the topic.

ANI

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