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Russian Agrarian Reform

The Road from Serfdom

By Carol Leonard

This book analyzes five major episodes of Russian land reform—from the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 through the reform of the transition from communism in the 1990s.

Historically, agrarian reforms tended to be delayed until a fiscal or financial crisis rationalized a change in distributional arrangements, but, in a vicious cycle, the worsening crisis conditions themselves, along with the partial nature of reforms, contributed to the persistence of the institutional regime. In contemporary Russia, agrarian reform was similarly partial and undertaken during a fiscal crisis, and it has yielded little immediate improvement in production—as a statistical study of the agricultural sector’s performance makes clear. This book focuses on the recurrent dilemmas of reform, and its conclusions point to the implications of past experience for present-day policymaking.

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