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Published December 2012 | Published
Journal Article Open

Living Standards in Nineteenth-Century Russia


Most of the studies of living standards in pre-revolutionary Russia by economic historians have focused on a narrow range of measures for predominantly urban areas. A micro-level analysis that employs a broader set of measures of well-being for a small rural region in central Russia suggests that, contrary to previous findings, living standards were improving throughout the nineteenth century, even in seemingly less dynamic rural areas. Moreover, the variation in income and consumption patterns, human-capital development, and the distribution of resources in the countryside was greater than typically assumed. Since state and local institutions might be able to account for it, these determinants should be emphasized in future analyses of rural living standards in pre-Soviet Russia.

Additional Information

© 2012 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Inc. The authors thank Timothy Guinanne, Phillip Hoffman, Peter Lindert, Andrei Markevich, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, and attendees of the 2007 meeting of the Social Science History Association in Chicago for helpful advice and comments. Archivists and librarians in Russia, the United Kingdom, Finland, and the United States were extraordinarily helpful. Research support from Williams College and the California Institute of Technology is greatly appreciated.

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