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


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.

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