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Regular version of the site

Events

CInSt Research Seminar “All Along the Watchtower: Defense Lines and the Origins of Russian Serfdom”

Event ended
Timur Natkhov, Senior Research Fellow (Center for Institutional Studies), Associate Professor (Department of Applied Economics, HSE University), will present his current research “All Along the Watchtower: Defense Lines and the Origins of Russian Serfdom.”

Abstract
Why did Russia enserf its previously free peasants, just as Western Europe was undergoing the opposite transition? Domar (1970) famously argued that Russia’s low population density would have resulted in a high equilibrium wage, and, therefore, created incentives for the landowners to restrict labor mobility. While this theory account for the cross-sectional pattern between Western and Eastern Europe, it does not address the timing of the enserfment, and unable to explain why serfdom was not reintroduced in the West after the Black Death. In this paper we propose a new theory, arguing that Russian serfdom was an institution imposed to ensure stable and effective manning of the defense lines against the nomad’s slave raids from the south. To test the theory we employ, for the very first time, unique data on the structure and distribution of Russian population in late 17th century. We show that the highest proportion of serfs in 1678 was on the Tula fortification line (Tul’skaya zasechnaya cherta), which was the first in a sequence of defence lines built to protect the southern frontier against the nomad raids. The location of other types of peasant (free, church, state), and citizens was not associated with the defence line. We also deploy spatial methods and terrain data to calculate the optimal invasion routes for nomads, as well as location of optimal defense lines to block the raids. Using them as an instrument for Tula defence line we confirm our OLS estimations.

Date and time: February 21, 2019; 6:00 PM.
Location: room 445, 20 Myasnitskaya street, Moscow.
Working language: English.

Free entrance.
If you don't have an HSE ID, please send your name and surname to savdeev@hse.ru before 1:00 PM on February 21.