History, development and growth rates of the economy of the Russian Empire

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History, development and growth rates of the economy of the Russian Empire
History, development and growth rates of the economy of the Russian Empire

The result of the rapid development of the economy of the Russian Empire by the end of the 19th century was a well-functioning capitalist system. How did its formation take place and how did subsequent historical events that took place in the 20th century affect the state of the economy? Information about this will be interesting for history buffs.

The state of the economy in the pre-reform period

In the 19th century. The Russian Empire became a mighty power with a vast territory covering Eastern Europe and part of North Asia and North America. By the middle of the 19th century. the country's population reached 72 million compared to the end of the 18th century.

The main problem of the country at that time was the persistence of serfdom, which led to stagnant processes in the development of agriculture. The work of the serfs was unprofitable and unproductive, many landowners had debts, and part of the noble estates was remortgaged. Peasants in many provinces were dissatisfied - there was a threat of riots. There is a need to abolish serfdomrights.

In industry, there was a process of transition from serfs to freelance labor of workers. Those industries where serf relations persisted (metallurgy in the Urals, etc.) fell into decline, and where civilian employees worked (the textile industry), a steady increase in production was observed. There was also a displacement of small and medium-sized enterprises by large enterprises, which could not afford to purchase expensive equipment and machinery.

Starting from the 1840s, almost 60-80 years later than Europe, the economy of the Russian Empire begins to undergo an industrial revolution, the essence of which is the transition from manual labor to mass machine production.

The economy was hindered by the state of transport in Russia, which was undeveloped and backward: most cargo was transported by water. After the Patriotic War of 1812, the pace of laying highways accelerated (by 1825 their length was 390 km, and by 1850 - 3.3 thousand km). In the era of the reign of Emperor Nicholas 1, the construction of railways began, which by the 2nd half of the 19th century began to lead in terms of the volume of transported goods. In the 1830s The Tsarskoye Selo railway, 27 km long, was created, which ran between St. Petersburg and Pavlovsk, and in 1845 the Warsaw-Vienna railway was laid, which connected the Polish capital with European countries. In 1851, 2 capitals were finally connected by rails: Moscow and St. Petersburg (650 km). Thus, by 1855, the total length of the railways was already more than 1 thousand km.

After the entryNicholas 1st to the throne, the state of the financial and banking systems of Russia was in decline. Having taken the post of Minister of Finance, General E.F. Kankrin replaced obsolete and depreciated banknotes with new banknotes, introducing special deposit notes and state treasury notes (series). Metal coins were now in use, which were equated with paper money.

The first railway in Russia

Economic development in the 2nd half of the 19th century

The abolition of serfdom in 1861 had a positive impact on the rapid development of the economy and industry. The liberated peasants began to move to the cities and to enter the factories as cheap labor. Subsistence farms quickly began to grow rich, which helped to fill the domestic market with products.

A powerful breakthrough in the economy of the Russian Empire in the 19th century occurred along with the industrial revolution, which ended by the beginning of the 1880s. The foundations of new industries were laid - engineering, coal, oil production. The territory of the country was covered by a network of railways. This period was significant for the formation of new classes of the population - the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

As a result of the reforms of the 1860s and 70s. Favorable conditions have developed for the development of productive forces and the formation of market relations. During these years, the construction of roads has accelerated significantly due to the attraction of foreign and domestic private investments. In 1862, a railway was opened from Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod, linking the capital and the venue of the famous fair, which contributed to access to the westernmarket. Then roads were laid to the Urals and, finally, the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway began - by 1894 the length of the railway was 27.9 thousand km.

After the transition from forced labor in industrial enterprises to civilian employment (after the mass arrival of peasants), the Russian Empire's economy began to grow rapidly in the 19th century. There has been an increase in entrepreneurship in the country due to the widespread opening of various private shops, and some unprofitable enterprises began to revive sharply after they were transferred to private hands by order of the government.

By the end of the 19th century. textile industry has become the leading branch of the Russian industry, doubling the production of fabric per inhabitant of the country in 20 years. Growth was also noticeable in the food industry, thanks to which Russia began to export sugar.

The metallurgical industry, which slowed down development in the 1860s due to the need for urgent technical re-equipment, by 1870 was able to cope with the problems by establishing a regular smelting of iron and steel. During these years, there was a rapid growth of the mining and metallurgical industry in the territory of Donbass, as well as the oil industry in Baku.

Due to the insufficient technical equipment of the Russian engineering industry, the first steam locomotives and railway trains had to be imported from European countries, however, with the support of the government, by the second half of the 1870s. all rolling stock has already been produced at the modernized enterprises of Russia.

Textile factory in St. Petersburg, 1894

Trends in the growth of the economy of the Russian Empire

In theseyears, there was a gradual convergence of the Russian and world economies, which caused market fluctuations. This was the reason that in 1873, for the first time in the history of the economy of the Russian Empire, it was affected by the global industrial crisis.

In the second half of the 19th century. the final formation of the main industrial regions of Russia took place. They became:

  • Moscow, where many textile industries were located.
  • Petersburg, representing engineering and metalworking industry.
  • Southern and Ural are the bases of the metallurgical industry.

The most powerful Moskovsky district was based on small handicraft enterprises, which gradually began to be enlarged and formed factories. Here, manual labor is already being replaced by machine labor - such a transition from manufactory production to factory production is called the industrial revolution.

The process of technical re-equipment in the industry is a long-term process and eventually leads to the predominance of products that are manufactured only in factories equipped with machines. In the Russian Empire, the beginning of the industrial revolution took place in the 1850s and 60s, but its development was uneven and depended on the region and industry. It happened most quickly in the light cotton industry, and by 1880 it was already over. The machine industry, however, successfully developed into an industrial boom in the 1890s.

Serfdom in Russia

Growth of cities and businesses, financial system

This period was followed bythe rapid growth of cities and towns - in a few years some of them turned from a provincial town into administrative centers, in which several factories and factories worked. During these years, Moscow and St. Petersburg almost equaled in population (about 600 thousand inhabitants), as a huge number of peasant workers moved here, who worked in factories during the cold season, and returned to their homeland in the summer to harvest.

Over time, many of the temporary workers stayed in the city, but the bulk of the proletariat were more skilled industrial workers. The largest cities after the capital and Moscow were: Odessa (100 thousand people) and Tobolsk (33 thousand).

Agriculture after the abolition of serfdom was in poor condition. Even with an increase in the area under grain crops, the yield and total volume of grain remained low. In the regions of Central Russia during this period, landownership was in deep crisis, but in the steppe regions and the North Caucasus, farming and entrepreneurial production gradually and confidently established itself - this region became the breadbasket of the state and was the main exporter of bread.

In the financial industry, the issues of stabilization and the formation of a deficit-free budget were de alt with by Minister Reitern. They took measures to reduce excess government spending, thanks to which they managed to eliminate the deficit. His dream was the recognition of the gold standard of the ruble in Russia, but political and economic circumstances prevented this.

Nizhny Novgorod

Economic development of Russia at the turn of the 19th-20th century

At the end of the 19th c. The Russian Empire remained the only state in which absolute obedience to the autocracy was proclaimed. Emperor Nicholas II ascended the throne in 1894, after the death of his predecessor, the conservative Alexander III, and announced that his only political goal was to preserve autocracy in the country, but not to carry out economic reforms.

However, the development of capitalism in Russia was in full swing. Finance Minister S.Yu. Witte, who held this position in 1892-1901, convinced the tsar of the urgent need to implement the program he had developed for the development of industry, which involved the support of the national industry by the state in order to increase the growth rate of the economy of the Russian Empire.

The program had 4 main points:

  • tax policy providing incentives for industrial production, imposed a burden on the urban and rural population, including a strong increase in indirect taxes on certain goods (wine, etc.), served as a guarantee of the release of capital and its investment in industry;
  • ideas of protectionism, which made it possible to protect enterprises from foreign competitors;
  • monetary reform (1897) should guarantee the stability and solvency of the Russian ruble, which was backed by gold;
  • foreign capital investment incentives – investment in the form of government loans that were distributed in the marketsFrance, Germany, Great Britain and Belgium, the share of foreign capital was 15-29% of the total.
Government of Russia and Witte

This policy attracted foreign investors to the Russian market: at the end of the 19th century. the French and Belgians invested 58% of capital investments in the metallurgical and coal industries, the Germans - 24%, etc. However, this led to opposition from some ministers who believed that foreign investors would pose a threat to the national security of the state. The further development of the economy of the Russian Empire was also hampered by a low level of consumption, especially among the population of rural areas, and an underdeveloped consumer market.

The main consequence of economic growth at the end of the 19th century. was the formation of the working class, among which, by the beginning of the 20th century, dissatisfaction with conditions and wages was accumulating. However, before 1905, the ties between professional revolutionaries and the proletariat were weak.

Economy at the beginning of the 20th century

By this time, the capitalist system had finally formed in the country, which was reflected in an increase in entrepreneurship and the amount of capital invested in production, its improvement, technical re-equipment, a sharp increase in the number of workers in many areas of the economy.

At the beginning of the 20th c. capitalism in many countries has entered the monopoly stage, which is characterized by the formation of large industrial and financial monopolies and unions. Powerful industrial-financial groups are becoming increasingly importantin the economy - they influence the volume of manufactured products and their sales, dictate prices, while dividing the whole world into separate spheres of influence.

Russian credit card

This process was also characteristic of Russia, affecting its political, economic and social spheres. Features of the economy of the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 20th century. were as follows:

  • She switched to capitalist relations later than other European countries.
  • Russia is located on a large territory with completely different climatic and natural conditions, which were developed unevenly.
  • As before, autocracy, land ownership by landowners, class differences, national problems and political lack of rights of the majority of representatives of the people remained in the country.

The process of monopolizing the economy of the Russian Empire took place in 4 stages:

  • 1880-1890s - the emergence of cartels on the terms of temporary agreements on prices and redistribution of sales markets, strengthening the influence of banks;
  • 1900-1908 – formation of large syndicates, bank monopolies;
  • 1909-1913 - the creation of vertical syndicates (which combined all production chains - from the purchase of raw materials, their production to marketing); the emergence of concerns and trusts, the gradual convergence and merging of banking and industrial capital, the emergence of finance capital;
  • 1913-1917 - the formation of state-monopoly capitalism and the merging of capital and monopolies with the state apparatus.

However, a strong impact onthe establishment of a market economy in the Russian Empire had the intervention of the state and the tsar in economic life, which consisted in the creation of military production, control of state bodies over railway transport and laying roads, state ownership of most of the land, the prevalence of the public sector in the economy, etc.

The economic crisis of 1901-1903. and the first revolution

The deterioration of the situation in the economy of the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 20th century was due to the crisis of 1901-1903. and later developed into social tension in the country. The failure of the troops in the Russo-Japanese War served as a catalyst for the beginning of the revolutionary uprisings in 1905. In the summer of 1904, the Minister of the Interior, V.K. It demanded the formation of a national assembly, whose representatives could be elected by the people.

The first to stop work on January 3, 1905 were Putilov workers in St. Petersburg, and then the strike spread to all metropolitan enterprises. And on the 9th crowds of people, rushing to the square near the Winter Palace with icons in their hands and singing psalms, were met by rifle fire from soldiers. Due to panic and gunfire, about 1 thousand people died, 5 thousand were injured. This "Bloody Sunday" was the beginning of the revolution, which lasted until 1907

And although the emperor and the government tried to make concessions, the peasants also joined the revolutionaries, under whose influence the All-Russianpeasant union. The striking workers put forward economic demands. As a result, the government decided to create and hold elections to the State Duma.

Revolution of 1905

Stolypin's reforms

History and economic transformations in Russia in the period after the 1st revolution are inextricably linked with the reforms of P. A. Stolypin, who served as prime minister from 1906 to 1911. According to his concept, the transformation of the economy and the modernization of the state were to be held on 3 conditions:

  • peasants became land owners;
  • universal literacy of the population (4 grades of primary school);
  • industrial growth should be based on Russia's internal resources and the further development of the economic market.

However, the implementation of the Stolypin reform in practice was not entirely smooth due to his ignorance of regional differences and the idealization of the impact of obtaining land in private ownership on the peasants. As part of its implementation, a huge migration of Russian peasants to the lands of Siberia took place (over 3 million people left during the period 1906-1916), but not everyone was able to get used to it, some later returned to their homeland and became “returnees”. The land privatization project in Siberia was not implemented, and the situation of the peasants in the central regions of the Russian Empire continued to deteriorate. The reforms were interrupted due to the death of Stolypin as a result of an assassination attempt at the Kyiv Opera House in September 1911

Stolypin and reforms

The state of the economyRussian Empire before World War I

Signs of the recovery of the Russian economy began to appear only in 1909, and in 1910 there was a turning point due to the increased export of food (grain), which affected the increase in profits and balanced the state budget. As of the beginning of 1913, revenues were 400 million rubles more than expenses.

Over the following years, there was a rapid growth of the economy of the Russian Empire: in 1913, the total volume of industrial production increased by 54%, and the number of its employees - by 31%. All industries were on the rise, from metallurgy, oil production and ending with the production of equipment for agriculture. Trade turnover and profits showed rapid growth. Trusts and financial cartels increasingly monopolized production in all industries, and their concentration was ensured by the work of large banks that completely controlled the market.

By the beginning of 1914, 1/3 of the number of shares was owned by foreign capital, most of the capital of banks was also in the hands of foreigners. Period 1908-1914 historians consider the golden age of the development of capitalism in Russia.

However, in terms of industrial production, the economy of the Russian Empire in 1913 lagged behind many European countries (France - 2.5 times, Germany - 6 and, especially, the USA - 14 times). The disadvantage was also the specific Russian model of capitalism, in which the growth of the economy did not change anything at all in the well-being and daily life of the Russian people. This was the reason for subsequent political events in 1917.g.

Statistics and conclusions

In the period from 1880 to 1914, the data on the growth of the Russian Empire's economy and place in the world are as follows:

  • share in world industrial production rose from 3.4% (1881) to 5.3% (1913);
  • for the period 1900-1913 the volume of industrial production in Russia doubled;
  • in the period 1909-1913 the growth rate of heavy industry was 174%, light industry - 137%;
  • annual earnings of workers increased on average from 61 (1881) to 233 rubles. (1910), i.e. almost 4 times;
  • production of agricultural machinery and for the period 1907-1913. increased by 3-4 times, smelted copper - by 2 times, engines - by 5-6 times.
Table of economic indicators

With the outbreak of the First World War, most of the states of Europe were drawn into it, which is why all the capacities of their industry were already directed to military needs. In Russia, this ended with the October Revolution and the establishment of Bolshevik power.

Many Soviet economists, comparing the economy of the Russian Empire and the USSR, called it "backward". However, all history and statistics confirm the opposite - in all parameters of economic development, the Russian Empire for the period from the middle of the 19th century. and until 1914 had significant success, slightly behind the developed countries of Europe (Germany, France) and the United States, but in some respects it was ahead of Italy and Denmark.

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