The Economics of Forced Labor: The Soviet Gulag (HOOVER INST PRESS PUBLICATION)

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9780817939427: The Economics of Forced Labor: The Soviet Gulag (HOOVER INST PRESS PUBLICATION)

Until now, there has been little scholarly analysis of the Soviet Gulag as an economic, social, and political institution, primarily owing to a lack of data. This collection presents the results of years of research by Western and Russian scholars. The authors provide both broad overviews and specific case studies.

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From the Publisher:

Much has been written about the Gulag as an institution of penal slavery inflicted upon millions and as the ultimate symbol of Soviet terror. Until now, however, there has been little scholarly analysis of the Soviet Gulag as an economic, social, and political institution, primarily due to lack of data. This collection, providing both broad overviews and specific case studies, presents the results of years of research by Western and Russian scholars. These expert contributors examine whether the Gulag was created to serve the economic interests of the totalitarian state or was simply a by-product of the dictator’s consolidation of power.

The authors examine the various forms of coercion and the channels through which coerced labor was distributed from the late 1930s to Stalin’s death in 1953, and reveal why the Gulag emerged and its perceived economic rationale. They detail the chronology of the Gulag from the first major projects—such as the White Sea–Baltic Canal and the Norilsk metallurgy complex—to later, unfinished plans. The book reveals how Soviet leadership sought to find the right balance between coercion and material incentives for the labor force—and how material incentives played an increasingly greater role in later years. We also learn of the day-to-day costs of maintaining the Gulag and the great hidden cost of coercion—lost productivity and rising criminality. Seen together, these contributions present an extraordinary portrait of a major aspect of the Soviet approach to economic achievement—their results should provide an invaluable lesson to future generations. Paul R. Gregory is Cullen Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Houston, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a research professor at the German Institute for Economic Research, Berlin. Valery Lazarev is a fellow of the Hoover Institution and is serving as a visiting assistant professor of economics at Yale University. Contributors: Leonid Borodkin, Robert Conquest, Simon Ertz, Paul Gregory, Christopher Joyce, Oleg Khlevnyuk, Valery Lazarev, Mikhail Morukov, David Nordlander, Andrei Sokolov, Aleksei Tikhonov

About the Author:

Paul R. Gregory, a Hoover Institution research fellow, holds an endowed professorship in the Department of Economics at the University of Houston, Texas, and is a research professor at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin. The holder of a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, he is the author or coauthor of twelve books and many articles on economic history, the Soviet economy, transition economies, comparative economics, and economic demography including Lenin’s Brain and Other Tales from the Secret Soviet Archives (Hoover Institution Press, 2008), The Political Economy of Stalinism (2004), Before Command: The Russian Economy from Emancipation to Stalin (1994), Restructuring the Soviet Economic Bureaucracy (1990, reissued 2006), and Russian National Income, 1885–1913 (1982, reissued 2005). He has edited Behind the Façade of Stalin's Command Economy (2001) and The Economics of Forced Labor: The Soviet Gulag (2003), both published by Hoover Institution Press and summarizing his research group's work on the Soviet state and party archives. His publications based on work in the Hoover Institution Archives have been awarded the Hewett Book Prize and the J.M. Montias Prize for the best article in the Journal of Comparative Economics. The research of his Hoover Soviet Archives Research Project team is summarized in part in "Allocation under Dictatorship: Research in Stalin's Archive" (coauthored with Hoover fellow Mark Harrison), published in the Journal of Economic Literature.

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