Long-run Consequences of Labor Coercion: Evidence from Russian Serfdom

Johannes C. Buggle (University of Lausanne)
Steven Nafziger (Williams College)

Abstract: This paper examines the long-run consequences of Russian serfdom. We use novel data measuring the intensity of labor coercion at the district level in 1861. Our results show that a greater legacy of serfdom is associated with lower economic well-being today. We apply an IV strategy that exploits the transfer of serfs from monastic lands in 1764 to establish causality. Exploring mechanisms, we find a positive correlation between the earlier experience of serfdom and pre- Soviet urbanization and land inequality, with negative implications for human capital investment and agglomeration over the long-run.