Early draft stage.

My grandfather was born in Lithuania in 1933 into a farm-owning family. Shortly thereafter, in 1940, Lithuania was annexed into the Soviet Union. When my grandfather was 8, his family was on a visit to his aunt. They had already heard whispers that they were on “a list”, and now someone had warned men would be coming through the village at night. My great-grandmother, together with her family, decided to hide in the wall of the barn through the night. She was not able to convince her sister. They never saw her, or her family again. My grandfather survived the subsequent turbulent period and occupation and grew to be a physics teacher and principal.

The occurrence described above was part of the first mass deportation in the Baltic States organized by the Soviet government. This deportation was officially aimed at reducing “anti-soviet elements”, including politicians, capitalists and landowners by forcefully resettling them in remote parts of the Soviet Union. Many more deportations took place during occupation in Soviet territories, with over 250000 individuals in Lithuania alone being forcefully relocated over 1941 and later 1945-1952 (Anušauskas, 2012). In practice, forced relocation and other forms of political violence were used as tool to ensure co-operation. For instance, deportations were used to punish the families of resistance fighters (Strods and Kott, 2002), or to ensure that farmers signed up to kolkhozes (Strods and Kott, 2002, Mertelsmann and Rahi-Tamm, 2009).

I hypothesize that political violence, and especially forced resettlement in the USSR has had long-term negative impacts on human capital throughout the Baltic States. As alluded to above – historians maintain that one target of political violence in the Soviet regime were persons with relatively high levels of education – politicians, lawyers, teachers, businessmen and landowners. If this is true, it conceivable that higher levels of political violence during Stalin’s regime may have led to lower levels of human capital at origin localities during the time of terror. Subsequently, it is estimated that less than 25% of deportees ever returned (Anušauskas, 2012). In turn, we would expect long-lasting impacts through path dependence. This hypothesis is potentially supported the Life in Transition survey, which shows that the grandchildren of persons subjected to Soviet oppressions have higher levels of education today (Life in Transition Survey, 2016). Given the targets and the scale of oppression, with at least 10% of the population at the time being affected directly, origin localities that experienced relatively higher levels of deportees could have measurably worse human capital outcomes until today.


Anušauskas, A. (2012). Teroras, 1940-1958 m. Versus aureus.

Life in Transition Survey, (2016). Accessible at https://www.ebrd.com/what-we-do/economic-research- and-data/data/lits.html

Mertelsmann, O., & Rahi-Tamm, A. (2009). Soviet mass violence in Estonia revisited. Journal of Genocide Research, 11(2-3), 307-322.

Strods, H., & Kott, M. (2002). The file on operation “Priboi”: A re-assessment of the mass deportations of 1949. Journal of Baltic Studies, 33(1), 1-36.