NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Russian Inequality on the Eve of Revolution

Steven Nafziger, Peter H. Lindert

NBER Working Paper No. 18383
Issued in September 2012
NBER Program(s):   DAE   LS   PE

Just how unequal were the incomes of different classes of Russians on the eve of Revolution, relative to other countries, to Russia’s earlier history, and to Russia’s income distribution today? Careful weighing of an eclectic data set provides provisional answers. We provide detailed income estimates for economic and social classes in each of the 50 provinces of European Russia. In 1904, on the eve of military defeat and the 1905 Revolution, Russian income inequality was middling by the standards of that era, and less severe than inequality has become today in such countries as China, the United States, and Russia itself. We also note how the interplay of some distinctive fiscal and relative-price features of Imperial Russia might have shaped the now-revealed level of inequality.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18383

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