Skip to main content

Convergence or Decline on Europe's Southeastern Periphery? Agriculture, Population, and GNP in Bulgaria, 1892–1945

  • Martin Ivanov (a1) and Adam Tooze (a2)

The literature currently offers no consistent narrative about economic development on Europe's southeastern periphery prior to 1945. Did per capita GNP in the Balkans converge with the rest of Europe? We present new GNP estimates for Bulgaria for 1892–1911 and link these with a new degree of precision to the data available for the 1920s. Our data reveal stagnation in per capita GNP from 1879 to the 1930s. But within agriculture we find evidence for a new phase of intensification from the 1920s onwards. The preconditions for growth, sometimes attributed to Communism, were in place well before 1945.

Hide All
Avramov Rumen. Stopanskiat dvadeseti vek na Bulgaria. [The Economic Twentieth Century of Bulgaria] Sofia: Centar za liberalni strategii, 2001.
Bairoch Paul. “Europe's Gross National Product: 1800–1975.Journal of European Economic History 5, no. 2 (1976): 273–340.
Bell John D. Peasants in Power: Alexander Stamboliski and the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union, 1899–1923. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977.
Blobaum Robert E.To Market! To Market! The Polish Peasantry in the Era of the Stolypin Reforms.Slavic Review 59, no. 2 (2000): 406–26.
Botev Nikolai. “Nuptiality in the Course of the Demographic Transition: The Experience of the Balkan Countries.Population Studies 44, no. 1 (1990): 107–26.
Chakalov Asen, Nationalniat dohod i razhod na Bulgaria. [Bulgaria's National Income and Outlay] Sofia: Knipegraph, 1946.
Clark Colin, The Conditions of Economic Progress. London: Macmillan & Co., 1957.
Cohen Jon, and Giovanni Federico, The Growth of the Italian Economy, 1820–1960. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Danailov Georgi, Izsledvane po demografia na Bulgaria. [Studies on Bulgarian Demography] Sofia: P. Glushkov, 1930.
Daniel Arnold. “Regional Differences of Productivity in European Agriculture.The Review of Economic Studies 12, no. 1 (1944): 50–70.
Daskalov Rumen. Bulgarskoto obshestvo, 1878–1939. [The Bulgarian Society, 1878–1939] Vol. 1–2. Sofia: Gutenberg, 2005.
Davie Maurice R. World Immigration: With Special Reference to the United States. New York: Macmillan & Co., 1936.
Eddie Scott M.Agricultural Production and Output per Worker in Hungary, 1870–1913.” This Journal 28 no. 2 (1968): 197222.
Federico Giovanni. Feeding the World: An Economic History of Agriculture, 1800–2000. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.
Federico Giovanni. “The Growth of World Agricultural Production, 1880–1938.Research Economic History 22 (2004): 125–82.
Foreman-Peck Joseph and Pedro Lains. “Economic Growth in the European Periphery 1870–1914.” ASSA Papers
Gerschenkron AlexanderSome Aspects of Industrialization in Bulgaria, 1879–1939.” In Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective: A Book of Essays, 198234. New York: Frederick A. Praeger 1962.
Good David. “Economic Growth in Europe's Third World: Central and Eastern Europe, 1870–1989.” In Rich Nations–Poor Nations: The Long-Run Perspective, edited by D. H. Aldcroft and R. E. Catterall, 6582. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 1996.
Good David and Tongushu Ma. “The Economic Growth of Central and Eastern Europe, 1870–1989.European Review of Economic History 3, no. 3 (1999): 103–38.
Gregory Paul. Before Command: An Economic History of Russia from Emancipation to the First Five-year Plan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994.
Gunst Pëter. Hungarian Agrarian Society from the Emancipation of Serfs (1848) to the Re-privatization of Land. Boulder, CO: Columbia University Press, 1998.
Hatton Timothy J., and Jeffrey G. Williamson. “What Drove the Mass Migrations from Europe in the Late Nineteenth Century.Population and Development Review 20, no. 3 (1994): 533–59.
Ivanov Martin. “Bulgarian National Income Between 1892 and 1924.Bulgarian National Bank: Discussion Papers no. 54 (2006): 148.
Kostrokowicka I.Changes in Agricultural Productivity in the Kingdom of Poland in the XIXth and early XXth Centuries.The Journal of European Economic History 13, no. 1 (1984): 7598.
Lains Pedro. “Southern European Economic Backwardness Revisited: The Role of Open Economy Forces in Portugal and the Balkans, 1870–1913.” Instituto de Ciencias Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa 2002.
Lampe John. R. The Bulgarian Economy in the Twentieth Century London: Croom Helm, 1986.
Lampe John. R., and Marvin Jackson. Balkan Economic History, 1550–1950: From Imperial Borderlands to Developing Nations. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982.
Maddison Angus. Monitoring the World Economy 1820–1992. Paris: OECD, 2000.
Maddison Angus. The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective. Paris: OECD, 2001.
Maddison Angus. The World Economy: Historical Statistics. Paris: OECD, 2003.
Mishaikov Dimitar. Naselenieto na Bulgaria: Demografska studia. [The Population of Bulgaria. A Study in Demography] Sofia: Slovo, 1920.
Mishkova Diana. “Literacy and Nation Building in Bulgaria 1878–1912.East European Quarterly 28, no. 1 (1994): 63–93.
Molloff Janaki S. Die Sozialökonomische Struktur der bulgarischen Landwirtschaft. Berlin: Duncker, 1936.
Moore Wilbert E. Economic Demography of Eastern and Southern Europe. Geneva: League of Nations, 1945.
O'Brien Patrick K. and Gianni Toniolo. “The Poverty of Italy and the Backwardness of its Agriculture Before 1914.” In Land, Labour and Livestock: Historical Studies in European Agricultural Productivity edited by Bruce M. S. Campbell and Mark Overton, 385409. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991.
Palairet Michael. The Balkan Economies ca. 1800–1914: Evolution without Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Pamuk Şevket. “Estimating Economic Growth in the Middle East since 1820.” This Journal 66, no. 3 (2006): 809–28.
Popov Kiril. Stopanska Bulgaria. [Economic Bulgaria] Sofia: BAN, 1915.
Popoff Kiril. La Bulgarie Économique. Etudes Statistique, 1879–1911. Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1920.
Rangelova Rositsa. “Bulgaria's National Income and Economic Growth 1913–1945.Review of Income and Wealth 46, no. 2 (2000): 231–48.
Schulze Max-Stephan. Engineering and Economic Growth: The Development of Austria-Hungary's Machine-Building Industry in the Late Nineteenth Century. Frankfurt, Peter Lang, 1996.
Simpson John. Spanish Agriculture. The Long Siesta, 1765–1965. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Schulze Max-Stephan. “Patterns of Growth and Stagnation in the Late Nineteenth Century Habsburg Economy.European Review of Economic History 4, no. 3 (2000): 311–40.
Sklar June L.The Role of Marriage Behaviour in the Demographic Transition: The Case of Eastern Europe Around 1900.Population Studies 28, no. 2 (1974): 231–47.
Studenski Paul. The Income of Nations: Part One: History. New York: New York University Press, 1956.
Sundhaussen Holm. “Die verpasste Agrarrevlution. Aspekte der Entwicklungs-blockade in den Balkanländern vor 1945.” In Industrialisierung und gesellschaftlicher Wandel in Südosteuropa, edited by Roland Schoenfeld, 4560. Munich, Südosteuropa Gesellschaft, 1989.
Sundhaussen Holm. Historische Statistik Serbiens, 1834–1914: mit Europäischen Vergleichs-daten. München, Oldenbourg, 1989.
Tiltman Hubert Hessel. Peasant Europe. London: Jarrolds Ltd., 1934.
Tomich Thomas, Peter Kilby and Bruce Johnston. Transforming Agrarian Economies: Opportunities Seized, Opportunities Missed. Ithaca, NY: Cornel University Press, 1995.
Tortella Gabriel. “Patterns of Economic Retardation and Recovery in South-Western Europe in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.Economic History Review 47, no. 1 (1994): 1–21.
Tortella Gabriel. The Development of Modern Spain: An Economic History of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.
Warriner Doreen. Economics of Peasant Farming. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1939.
Zagoroff Slavcho, Jenõ Vegh, and Alexander Bilimovich. The Agricultural Economy of the Danubian Countries 1935–1945. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1955.
Zamagni Vera. The Economic History of Italy 1860–1990. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.
Van Zanden Jan Luiten. “First Green Revolution: The Growth of Production and Productivity in European Agriculture, 1870–1914.Economic History Review 44, no. 2 (1991): 215–39.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed