From
An Economic
History
of the USSR 1
By Alec Nove

An Economic History
of the USSR
2

An Economic History
of the USSR
3

 

 

The Russian Empire in 1913 -
INDUSTRIAL GROWTH

 

In the last years before it was engulfed by war and revolution, the Russian empire had reached a level of development which, though leaving it well behind the major industrialized Western powers was non the less appreciable. It would be quite mis­leading to assume that the communists took over a wholly un­developed and illiterate country with a stagnant economy. …

Russia in 1854 faced the Western powers with an obsolete social organization and obsolete weapons. Society was still dominated by an inflexible caste system, and most of the peasants were serfs owned by the landed proprietors, the State or the Crown….
The military failure in the Crimea was a great shock to Tsar and society alike. The empire as a military power had failed to keep pace with the changing world; it had to be modernized… …gradually … industrialization became a major motivation of policy
No one doubts that in the fifty-three years which separated the abolition of serfdom from the outbreak of the First World War there had been rapid economic growth and major social change,

 

Industrial output
(manufacturing and mining) 

1900 = 100)

186013.9  189672.9  190598.2
187017.1  189777.8  1906111.7
188028.2  189885.5  1907116.9
189050.7  189995.3  1908119.5
189153.4  1900100.0  1909122.5
189255.7  1901103.1  1910141.4
189363.3  1902103.8  1911149.7
189463.3  1903106.5  1912153.2
189570.4  1904109.5  1913163.6

 

For the period 1888-1913 this index gives one a growth rate of just about 5 per cent per annum. This was fairly high ….. However, the much slower rate of increase in agriculture, and the high share of agriculture in Russia's employment and national income, made the overall performance appear much more modest.
 Rough national income estimates, made by Goldsmith, show Russian growth rates well below those of the United States and Japan, a little below that of Germany, though above Britain and France. With Russia's very rapid increase in popu­lation, the per capita figures were less favorable still.………

 

The following figures given by a present-day Soviet source,
and relating to the present boundaries of Russia,
compare Russia's production figures with those of
the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom:

1913 Russia U.S.A. U.K.
Electricity (milliard Kwhs)  2.0 25.8 4.7
Coal (million tons) 29.2  5l7.8 292.0
Oil (million tons)  10.3 34.0 
Pig iron (million tons) 4.2 3l.5 10.4
Steel (million tons) 4.3 3l.8 7.8
Cotton textiles (milliard metres) 1.9 5.7 7.4
(SOURCE: Promyshlennost' SSSR, 1964, pp.112-16.)

 

 

National income

  1894 1913Growth
 (Roubles per capita)(per cent)
United Kingdom273 46370
France233355 52
Italy104230 121
Germany184292 58
Austria-Hungary127 22779
Russia (in Europe)6710150

Calculations of S. N. Prokopovich

 

 

Relative industrial progress of world powers 1860-1910  

 

Raw cottonPig ironRailwaysCoalSteam
 power
Ranking
list
 Kg
per head
Kg
per head
*Kg
per head
h.p 
per1000
persons
 
  1860  1910 1860  1910 1860  1910 1860  1910 18601910** 1860  1910
Germany 1.4 6.8 14 200 21 75 400 3190 5 110/130 6 4/5
Belgium 2.9 9.4 69 250 30 102 1310 3270 21 150 2/3 3
Spain 1.4 4.4  3 21 6 58 - 330 -   4 8 8
U.S.A. 5.8 12.7 25 270 19 122 420 4580 25 150/180 2/3 1
France 2.7 6.0 25 100 18 87 390 1450 5  73 5 6
Italy 0.2 5.4  2 8 6 38 - 270 - 14/46 9/10 9
Japan  - 4.9 - 5 - 14 - 230 - 7/10 11 11
U.K. 15.1 19.8 130 210 44 69 2450 4040 24 220/240 1 2
Russia 0.5 3.0  .5 31 1 24 - 300 1 ?/16 9/10 10
Sweden 1.5 3.6 47 110 3 76 90 910 - 551150 7 7
Switz. 5.3 6.3     28 88     - 85/190 4 4/5
*Total length related to population and area.
**The higher figure includes other forms of power.
- Negligible or not available.
NOTE: Most figures represent an average over several years.

 

 

 

…Professor Grinevetsky, … Quoting Russia's backwardness in metal-goods industries, … wrote:
“ … Russia in her pre-war economic growth … was in fact falling behind. “


Russia was thus the least developed European power, but a European power none the less. … her development was exceedingly uneven ... Her modern industry was very modern indeed, with a marked tendency to large and well-equipped factories using the most up-to-date Western models. … Most of the rest of the country had very little industry other than handicrafts. Apart from the oil of Baku, the southern and eastern territories were particularly primitive.

 

 A disproportionate share of some industries
 was concentrated in areas lost to
Russia after the First World War and
the civil war (the Baltic states,
and territories which became part of
Poland and Roumania). The following table
illustrates this:                

Total value of production 1912

 In retained
territory
In lost
territory
 (millions of roubles)
All industry60591384
Wool344297
Leather 7644
Paper6133
Jute and sacks2814
Woodworking16353
Chemicals22364
Cotton fabrics1389364
Metal goods1137 258
source: V. Motylev, Problemy ekonomiki
             No.1(1929), p.36.

 

 

 

 

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