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Labor Surplus and Mass Mobilization: Russian Agriculture during the Great War

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  • Paul Castaneda Dower

    (New Economic School)

  • Andrei Markevich

    (New Economic School and Department of Economics, University of Warwick)

Abstract

We use mass mobilization for World War I as an exogenous source of variation in the labor force to test the extent of agricultural surplus in one of the most quintessential examples of labor surplus, late imperial Russia. We construct district-level panel data describing agricultural production in the Russian Empire before and during the World War I. We show that districts that experienced greater mass mobilization responded by decreasing area under crops. We next demonstrate the differential effects of mobilization for commune and private farm production, peak and slack season production and cereals and animal husbandry production. Taken together, these results suggest that peasants responded to mass mobilization in a dramatic way. We estimate the upper bound of labor surplus in the agricultural sector to be significantly lower than previous estimates; however, our estimate is conditional on this peculiar pattern of labor removal.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Castaneda Dower & Andrei Markevich, 2013. "Labor Surplus and Mass Mobilization: Russian Agriculture during the Great War," Working Papers w0196, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  • Handle: RePEc:cfr:cefirw:w0196
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    1. Chernina, Eugenia & Castañeda Dower, Paul & Markevich, Andrei, 2014. "Property rights, land liquidity, and internal migration," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 191-215.
    2. Markevich, Andrei & Harrison, Mark, 2011. "Great War, Civil War, and Recovery: Russia's National Income, 1913 to 1928," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(3), pages 672-703, September.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2004. "Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 497-551, June.
    4. Basu, Kaushik, 1992. "The broth and the cooks: A theory of surplus labor," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 109-117, January.
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