DP12388 Was Domar Right? Serfdom and Factor Endowments in Bohemia
|Author(s):||Alex Klein, Sheilagh C. Ogilvie|
|Publication Date:||October 2017|
|Keyword(s):||institutions, Labor coercion, land-labor ratio, rural-urban interaction, serfdom|
|JEL(s):||J47, N33, O43, P48|
|Programme Areas:||Economic History|
|Link to this Page:||cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12388|
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.