Labor Misallocation and Mass Mobilization: Russian Agriculture during the Great War
75 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2013 Last revised: 2 Feb 2017
Date Written: May 20, 2016
We exploit a quasi-natural experiment of mobilized draftees in Russia during World War I to examine the effects of a massive, negative labor shock on agricultural production. Employing a novel district-level panel dataset, we find that mobilization produces a dramatic decrease in cultivated area. Surprisingly, traditional farms with communal land tenure exhibit greater resilience to the labor shock than private farms. The resilience stems from peasants reallocating labor in favor of the commune because of the increased attractiveness of its nonmarket access to land and social insurance. Our results support an institutional explanation of factor misallocation in agriculture.
Keywords: factor misallocation; agricultural production; mass mobilization; World War I; Russia
JEL Classification: D24, N44, N54 O12, O17, O20
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