Proposal preview

LATE IMPERIAL AND EARLY SOVIET ECONOMIC HISTORY

Abstract: For the years leading to the Great War and the Russian Revolution as well as for the early years of the Soviet Regime, we have limited data with which to assess the living standards of the Russian population which, in turn, limits our understanding of certain key developments in the country’s history. This session discusses the current situation of the literature on living standards and what affected them.

So far, four papers that have been proposed for this session. The first two papers by Ekaterina Khaustova, Vadim Kufenko and Vincent Geloso (see paper #1 below) and by Ekaterina Khaustova and Robert Allen (see paper #2 below) will discuss living standards in Russia as far as 1937 (in the latter case) and the role of population pressures on wages (in the case of the former). The other two papers will discuss the role of certain key events on living standards. Natalia Rozinskaya (see paper #3 below) will discuss the role that civil wars played on living standards by comparing the Russian Civil War with the Spanish Civil War. In the paper, Rozinskaya also provides further evidence about Russian living standards. Finally, Alexander Opitz (see paper #4 below) will discuss the role of the 1905 revolution on the development of financial markets in Russia.

Expected Participants: Vadim Kufenko and Alexander Opitz (University of Hohenheim), Vincent Geloso (Texas Tech University), Ekaterina Khaustova (Russian State Social University), Natalia Rozinskaya (Moscow State University), Robert Allen (New York University at Abu Dhabi).

Paper 1 “A later escape? Malthusian pressures in late 19th century Moscow”
Authors

Ekaterina Khaustova, Russian State Social University, ekhaustova@mail.ru
Vadim Kufenko, University of Hohenheim, vkufenko@gmail.com
Vincent Geloso, Texas Tech University, vincent.geloso@ttu.edu

Abstract
The map and the timeline of demographic transitions across the world as in Reher (2004) has provided insights about the time frames, during which different countries escaped the Malthusian trap. Yet, taking into account regional heterogeneity within countries, pinpointing the dissolution of the Malthusian effects may be problematic, especially in cases of frontier economies with different levels of regional development. Imperial Russia in the 19th century in this sense is an interesting candidate. Instead of considering Russia on aggregate, we focus on a particular region: the city of Moscow, one of the leading industrial regions at that time. Finding a positive or a preventive check as in Nicolini (2007) would be a sufficient evidence for existing of population pressures: for these purposes, we use newly collected data on monthly birth, death, marriage and infant mortality rates from 1871-1910 in Moscow city combined price and wage for 1824-1917 (Allen and Khaustova, 2017). This allows us to capture on of the most interesting periods in the Russian history: the industrialization, which took place after the emancipation of labor. We appeal to the VAR framework involving growth rates of real wages of the unskilled workers, birth rates (or nuptiality, depending on specification) and death rates. We find no Malthusian effects for the whole period, but there were signs of effects in subperiod, namely the earliest (1871-1882), but they vanish rapidly indicating that in the late stages of industrialisation none of the Malthusian effects were found. The findings suggest that these effects existed just in the second decade after abolishment of serfdom in 1861, namely during 1871-1882, and vanished afterwards.

Discussant
TBA

Paper 2 “Did Russian workers gain from 1917? Russian wages and living standards, 1853-1937, in international comparison”

Authors

Robert Allen, NYU Abu Dhabi and University of Oxford, bob.allen@nyu.edu
Ekaterine Khaustova, Russian State Social University, ekhaustova@mail.ru

Abstract
The paper measures real wages in St Petersburg, Moscow, and Kursk between 1853 and 1937 and compares them to real wages in Chicago, Manchester, Bombay, and Cairo over the same period. The wages are those of building labourers, building craftsmen, and employees in cotton mills. Prices are measured in terms of subsistence baskets that approximate the World Bank poverty line. Attention is given to the problem of comparing living standards across climate zones, and a solution is suggested. Russian living standards grew very modestly between 1853 and 1913–much less than the growth in output per worker– and were similar to those in Egypt and India. Wages in the UK and USA were 2.5 – 5 times greater. Real wages in Russia jumped up by 50% to 100% between 1913 and 1928. When seen in a Russian perspective, this looks like a big advance; when seen internationally, it is much less. Real wages dropped to their pre-War level between 1928 and 1937, as the social surplus, which had been distributed to the working class and peasants after the 1917 Revolution, was mobilized for the industrialization drive.

Discussant
TBA

Paper 3 “The Social and Economic Causes of the Various Outcomes of the Russian and the Spanish Civil Wars”

Authors

Natalia Rozinskaya, Moscow State University, rozinskaya@econ.msu.ru

Abstract
In the first third of the 20th century, Spain and Russia were the countries in transition from traditional society to the industrial one. That transition led to social conflicts in both countries, but, unlike Russia, where civil war resulted in the victory of the extreme left (the “Reds”), Spanish civil war ended with the victory of the conservative forces. The paper tries to find out economic reasons of those different results. The Spanish data analysis shows that the real incomes of the Spaniards employed in agriculture were growing much faster than the incomes of other categories of employees. Besides that, the benefit which the Spanish agriculture has received as a result of the First World War is quite obvious. The comparative analysis of Russian data shows that during the period from 1897 to 1913, the rate of increase of the peasants’ incomes in comparison with both the incomes of other social groups and with the incomes of the peasants themselves for the previous period was substantially lower than in Spain. Thus, the economic situation of the Spanish peasantry during both the second half of 19th century and the first half of the 20th century noticeably improved. In these circumstances, the Spanish peasantry failed to see the reasons for immediate radical change offered by the Republicans and chose to support the conservative forces. In Spain the benefit resulted from non-involvement in the First World War was not taxed out and used for the accelerated economic development. It was consumed – of course largely by landowners, but as data on peasants’ income growth indicates, not only by them. Thus it softened people’s (or, more specifically, peasants’) adaptation to the modernization processes. Spanish government did not consider it necessary to accelerate at any cost the growth of modern (often military-related) industries as it was done in other countries, particularly in Russia. This circumstance made it possible to maintain the acceptable level of social tension in most rural areas (except for Andalucia where the social conflict was very acute) that played the crucial role during the Civil War

Discussant
TBA

Paper 4 “The Revolution of 1905 and its impacts on financial markets”

Authors

Alexander Opitz, University of Hohenheim, alexopitz@gmx.de

Abstract
This paper examines the impact of the Revolution of 1905 on contemporary capital markets by performing an event study. This landmark in Russian history comprised violent protests, the introduction of a parliament and the adoption of a constitution, all within a short period of time. Only the latter was perceived positively, whereas the other events apparently involved large political and economic uncertainly and were accordingly perceived negatively by investors. The Russo-Japanese war, which directly preceded the revolutionary events, is also considered. The analysis is based on prices of two types of Russian sovereign bonds listed at the Berlin Stock Exchange. The examination of the very same securities at the Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange suggests that the two markets were already well integrated at turn of the twentieth century.

Discussant
TBA

Organizer(s)

  • Vincent Geloso, Texas Tech University, vincent.geloso@ttu.edu, USA
  • Ekaterina Khaustova, Arizona State University, ekaterina.khaustova@asu.edu, Russia

Session members

  • Vincent Geloso, Texas Tech University, vincent.geloso@ttu.edu
  • Ekaterina Khaustova, Arizona State University, ekaterina.khaustova@asu.edu
  • Vadim Kufenko, University of Hohenheim, vkufenko@gmail.com
  • Robert Allen, NYU Abu Dhabi and University of Oxford, bob.allen@nyu.edu
  • Natalia Rozinskaya, Moscow State University, rozinskaya@econ.msu.ru
  • Alexander Opitz, University of Hohenheim, alexopitz@gmx.de

Proposed discussant(s)

  • TBA , ,