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Russian Living Standards under the Tsars: Anthropometric Evidence from the Volga

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2008

Professor, Department of Sociology, St. Petersburg State University, ul. Smol'nogo 1/3, 193060 St. Petersburg, Russia. E-mail:
Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Franklin & Marshall College, Box 3003, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17604. E-mail:


The trend in mean height in the Russian province of Saratov is estimated for birth cohorts from 1755 to 1892 on the basis of newly gathered archival data and published sources. Heights fell in the late eighteenth century due an increasing burden of taxes and feudal dues. Stature increased slowly throughout the nineteenth century, offering no support for the hypothesis of an agrarian crisis that provoked or followed from the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Improving living conditions can be attributed to economic development, rising productivity in agriculture, and diversification of peasant economic activity into other sectors.

Copyright © The Economic History Association 2008

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