How significant was the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 to Russia’s economic growth in the years up to 1894?
The emancipation of the serfs in 1861 by the Tsar Alexander II has been said was probably the greatest single piece of state-directed social engineering in modern European history before the twentieth century. There are some evidences that showed the emancipation had brought some level of economic growth to Russia but there were also evidences showing that the economic growth was affected by other factors. Hence, the extent of how significant was the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 to Russia’s economic growth in the years up to 1894 will be the focus in this essay.
Firstly, the reason why the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 had contributed to the economic growth is because the serfs were no longer an asset to their master. The emancipation freed the peasants to go to live and work in cities, who provided an agriculture labour force in countryside and the urban labour force in the cities. Emancipation also meant the end of feudal dues and payments in kind, the ex-serfs were now available to own lands under their name. This had pushed Russia economy to go forward as the agriculture had improved, the ex-serfs were more productive to farm on their own land. Furthermore, the emancipation enable the serfs freed from fear of being forced to do military service, hence, it produced more mobile strong men labour force. They contributed by working in the cities or help out the agriculture work at home. Some of them were even able to combine work in the cities with return to the MIR at key times of year.
Secondly, the emancipation promoted the emergence of wealthier kulaks. They brought up land, perhaps with the aid of loans from the Peasant Land Bank. With their larger farms, they employed labour and increased output which provided sufficient surplus to...