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Escape underway: Malthusian pressures in late imperial Moscow

Vadim Kufenko (), Ekaterina Khaustova and Vincent Geloso

Explorations in Economic History, 2022, vol. 85, issue C

Abstract: Did late Imperial Russia suffer from Malthusian pressures? At first glance, with its rising levels of population and per capita income, it seems Russia was in a transition away from Malthusian equilibrium. However, the joint increase in population and per capita income could also have been the result of Russia’s high land-to-labor ratio. Which of the two is it? Such a problem is a frequent one in economic history, as many frontier economies have high land-to-labor ratios, which foil the researcher’s ability to determine whether an economy was transitioning or whether it was growing because of weak land constraints. In this paper, we use quarterly demographic and economic data from Moscow (which we take as a proxy for Russia) in conjunction with a Cointegrated Vector Autoregression approach to determine whether the Russian economy was transitioning away from a Malthusian equilibrium. We find signs of Malthusian pressures still operating while wages had stopped responding to changes in death and birth rates. This combination suggests that a vulnerable transition was truly underway even though a Malthusian shadow remained.

Keywords: Russian economic history; Late imperial russia; Malthusian pressures; CVAR; Positive check; Preventive check (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J11 N13 N33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2022.101458

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