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Was Domar Right? Serfdom and Factor Endowments in Bohemia

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  • Alexander Klein

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  • Sheilagh Ogilvie

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Abstract

Do factor endowments explain serfdom? Domar (1970) conjectured that high land-labor ratios caused serfdom by increasing incentives to coerce labor. But historical evidence is mixed and quantitative analyses are lacking. Using the Acemoglu-Wolitzky (2011) framework and controlling for political economy variables by studying a specific serf society, we analyze 11,349 Bohemian serf villages in 1757. The net effect of higher land-labor ratios was indeed to increase coercion. The effect greatly increased when animal labor was included, and diminished as land-labor ratios rose. Controlling for other variables, factor endowments significantly influenced serfdom. Institutions, we conclude, are shaped partly by economic fundamentals.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Klein & Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2017. "Was Domar Right? Serfdom and Factor Endowments in Bohemia," Studies in Economics 1717, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  • Handle: RePEc:ukc:ukcedp:1717
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James Fenske, 2012. "Land abundance and economic institutions: Egba land and slavery, 1830–1914," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(2), pages 527-555, May.
    2. Kahan, Arcadius, 1973. "Notes on Serfdom in Western and Eastern Europe," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(1), pages 86-99, March.
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    4. Hatcher, John & Bailey, Mark, 2001. "Modelling the Middle Ages: The History and Theory of England's Economic Development," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199244126.
    5. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588.
    6. Domar, Evsey D., 1970. "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(1), pages 18-32, March.
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    8. Alexander Klein & Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2016. "Occupational structure in the Czech lands under the second serfdom," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(2), pages 493-521, May.
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    1. repec:eee:deveco:v:135:y:2018:i:c:p:504-516 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    serfdom; land-labor ratio; institutions; labor coercion; rural-urban interaction;

    JEL classification:

    • J47 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Coercive Labor Markets
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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