Was Domar Right? Serfdom and Factor Endowments in Bohemia
87 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 2017
Do factor endowments explain serfdom? Domar (1970) conjectured that high land-labor ratios caused serfdom by increasing incentives to coerce labor. But historical evidence is mixed and quantitative analyses are lacking. Using the Acemoglu-Wolitzky (2011) framework and controlling for political economy variables by studying a specific serf society, we analyze 11,349 Bohemian serf villages in 1757. The net effect of higher land-labor ratios was indeed to increase coercion. The effect greatly increased when animal labor was included, and diminished as land-labor ratios rose. Controlling for other variables, factor endowments significantly influenced serfdom. Institutions, we conclude, are shaped partly by economic fundamentals.
Keywords: serfdom; land-labor ratio; institutions; labor coercion; rural-urban interaction
JEL Classification: J47, N33, O43, P48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation