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Working paper

From financial crisis to revolution: Russia 1899-1905

MPRA Paper. No. 95166. Munich Personal RePEc Archive, 2019
What are the channels by which financial crises lead to social unrest? This paper examines the period between the major Russian financial crisis of 1899-1902 and the Russian Revolution of 1905. Using newly-constructed aggregate-level data and narrative evidence, this paper finds that in response to the crisis, the Russian government and industry transferred income and wealth from ordinary workers to industrialists and investors. The recipients of transfers weathered the crisis well and profited during the recovery, while employees’ wages and wealth fell behind. The evidence also suggests that businesses required their staff to work more intensively. Ultimately, the distributional effect of the response to the crisis seems to have contributed to the occurrence of labour strikes which culminated in the revolution.