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Highlights of the CInSt research seminar with Natalia Vasilenok

Natalia Vasilenok presented a joint paper with Timur Natkhov "Technology Adoption in Agrarian Societies: the Effect of Volga Germans in Imperial Russia" on CInSt research seminar on November 14th.

Highlights of the CInSt research seminar with Natalia Vasilenok

The adoption of advanced technology does not necessarily induce the diffusion of associated technological knowledge, which may be the reason why lagging economies cannot easily catch up to the technological frontier. 

The authors study the adoption of agricultural technology in the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 20th century. They exploit the quasi-experimental setting of the spatially concentrated German minority, which produced exogenous variation in the Russian peasants’ exposure to advanced agricultural technology.

Living closer to German settlements significantly increased the prevalence of agricultural implements (such as heavy ploughs and fanning mills) and techniques (wheat production) among Russian peasants. The adoption of heavy ploughs increased agricultural productivity among Russian peasants. However, there is no evidence for the adoption of skills and tacit knowledge, measured as the share of households engaged in craftsmanship. The failure to adopt technology may be accounted for prohibitively high costs of knowledge transmission.

Full text can be found here.