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Regular version of the site

Article

Property Rights and Internal Migration: The Case of the Stolypin Agrarian Reform in the Russian Empire (forthcoming)

Markevich A., Castañeda Dower P.

In the early twentieth century, a large number of households resettled from the European to the Asian part of the Russian Empire. We propose that this dramatic migration was rooted in institutional changes initiated by the 1906 Stolypin land titling reform. One might expect better property rights to decrease the propensity to migrate by improving economic conditions in the reform area. However, this titling reform increased land liquidity and actually promoted migration by easing financial constraints and decreasing opportunity costs. Treating the reform as a quasi-natural experiment, we employ difference-in-differences analysis on a panel of province-level data that describe migration and economic conditions. We find that the reform had a sizeable effect on migration. To verify the land liquidity effect, we exploit variation in the number of households participating in the reform. This direct measure of the reform mechanism estimates that land liquidity explains approximately 18% of migration during this period.