Looking for Multiple Equilibria in Russian Urban System
This paper studies the effect of the shock to spatial population distribution in the USSR brought by the WWII and Stalinist policies. Using a unique data set on the number of WWII evacuees at the level of city or rural raion and the data on locations and size of Gulag labor camps I measure the impact on city growth during Stalin's time. I test whether these shocks were reversed after Stalin's death, when Gulag system was abolished and many restriction on population mobility were lifted, and find no evidence of mean-reversion on average. The city growth dynamics is consistent with multiple equilibria hypothesis: cities that received a lot of investment (as measured by the Gulag population) and many wartime evacuees in the 1930s-1950s, get a permanent growth spurt, while cities that received a smaller shock are more likely to revert to their original growth trajectory. I estimate the elasticity of the threshold shock to location fundamentals as measured by longitude and latitude, and find that it is harder to overcome inertia and make a city grow if it's located further to the north.
WWII, evacuation, Gulag, cities, USSR