An updated version of the working paper by Timur Natkhov and Natalia Vasilenok is now available at SSRN
"Ploughs, Fairs and Skills: the Volga Germans and Technology Adoption in Late Imperial Russia", an updated version of the working paper by Timur Natkhov, Senior Research Fellow at CInSt, and Natalia Vasilenok, Research Assistant at CInSt, has been published at SSRN.
The paper studies knowledge spillovers across ethnic boundaries using the case of skilled German immigrants in the Russian Empire. The findings show that living closer to German settlements increased the adoption of advanced agricultural technologies, such as heavy ploughs and wheat sowing among Russian peasants. Adopted technologies increased labor productivity of Russian peasants. At the same time, communication barriers precluded Russians from adopting skill-intensive occupations like blacksmithing, mechanics, carpentry, and other crafts.
The results suggest that a skilled minority may enhance local development through introduction of advanced tools even without transmitting their skills to a receiving society.
The paper is available at