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The Economic Effects of the Abolition of Serfdom: Evidence from the Russian Empire

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  • Andrei Markevich
  • Ekaterina Zhuravskaya

Abstract

We document substantial increases in agricultural productivity, industrial output, and peasants' nutrition in Imperial Russia as a result of the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Before the emancipation, provinces where serfs constituted the majority of agricultural laborers lagged behind provinces that primarily relied on free labor. The emancipation led to a significant but partial catch up. Better incentives of peasants resulting from the cessation of ratchet effect were a likely mechanism behind a relatively fast positive effect of reform on agricultural productivity. The land reform, which instituted communal land tenure after the emancipation, diminished growth in productivity in repartition communes.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrei Markevich & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2018. "The Economic Effects of the Abolition of Serfdom: Evidence from the Russian Empire," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(4-5), pages 1074-1117, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:108:y:2018:i:4-5:p:1074-1117
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20160144
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Vicente Pinilla, 2018. "Agriocliometrics and Agricultural Change in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1803, Asociacion Espa–ola de Historia Economica.
    2. Buggle, Johannes C. & Nafziger, Steven, 2018. "The slow road from serfdom : Labor coercion and long-run development in the former Russian Empire," BOFIT Discussion Papers 22/2018, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    3. Peter Sandholt Jensen & Cristina Victoria Radu & Battista Severgnini & Paul Sharp, 2018. "The introduction of serfdom and labour markets," Working Papers 0140, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    4. repec:eee:deveco:v:135:y:2018:i:c:p:504-516 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:kap:copoec:v:30:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s10602-019-09273-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Grosfeld, Irena & Sakalli, Seyhun Orcan & Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, 2017. "Middleman Minorities and Ethnic Violence: Anti-Jewish Pogroms in the Russian Empire," CEPR Discussion Papers 12154, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J47 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Coercive Labor Markets
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • Q11 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Aggregate Supply and Demand Analysis; Prices

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