How demographic shocks affected the production-factor income and the institutional path of the Russian pre-industrial economy

Didenko D.V. How demographic shocks affected the production-factor income and the institutional path of the Russian pre-industrial economy // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2023. V.8. №2. P. 6-20.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2023-8-2-6-20


The author considers several Russian cases of population-loss shocks in the 14th — 17th centuries and their consequences for the production-factor markets, comparing them with those in England. The article aims at verifying theoretical ideas and at tracing the institutional path of mediaeval Russia’s development based on the empirical data represented in the research works, two chronicles and the legal act (Code of 1649). The author’s review of narratives and statistical data contributes to the historical comparative studies of economic systems and of the path dependence in the institutional economic history. The article contributes to the explanation of the causes of the ‘Little Divergence’ between (North)western and (South)eastern Europe in the 15th — 19th centuries, and of the roots of the ‘Great Divergence’ between Europe and Asia in the 18th — 20th centuries. The author argues that the empirical evidence from the Soviet Marxist economic historiography is consistent with the recent findings of the neo-Malthusian structural-demographic theory supported by the Cliodynamics school of quantitative history. After the shocks, wages rose in Russia just as in England. The dynamics of the skill premia highlights the background for formation of human capital ingredients in the bowels of the pre-industrial societies. Contrary to England, serfdom, one of the most extractive institutions, remained in Russia as a response of landlords to the pressure from the disadvantageous combination of production-factor incomes, which led to an increase in land rent to wage ratio and to reliance on land-saving (versus labour-saving) technologies in agriculture.


Land rent, real wage, skill premia, Black Death, Time of Troubles, serfdom, Malthusian growth regime, structural-demographic theory.

About the author

Didenko Dmitry V., DSc (Economics), PhD (History), Leading Researcher, Centre for Studies in Economic and Social History; Professor, Department of Social and Economic History, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. Prosp. Vernadskogo, 82, Moscow, 119571.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Read 305 times Last modified on Dec 04 2023

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