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On the Profitability of Russian Serfdom

Evsey D. Domar and Mark Machina ()

The Journal of Economic History, 1984, vol. 44, issue 4, 919-955

Abstract: The paper examines the thesis, popular among Russian Marxists, that Russian serfdom had become unprofitable for the serfowners before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. Four theoretical models are constructed in order to determine the effects on serfdom of population growth, rise in grain prices, certain restrictions on the serfs' labor obligations, and the replacement of labor services with money payments. Prices of serfs for the several regions and provinces are estimated by regression.With the exception of Lithuania, neither the theoretical nor the empirical results confirm the Marxist hypothesis.

Date: 1984
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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:44:y:1984:i:04:p:919-955_03