economy development under alexander II

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  • development of russian economy under alexander II
    • Throughout the last half of the nineteenth century, Russia's economy developed more slowly than that of the major European nations to its west.
    • Russia's population was substantially larger than those of the more developed Western countries, but the vast majority of the people lived in rural communities and engaged in relatively primitive agriculture. Industry, in general, had greater state involvement than in Western Europe, but in selected sectors it was developing with private initiative, some of it foreign.
    • Agriculture, which was technologically underdeveloped, remained in the hands of former serfs and former state peasants, who together constituted about four-fifths of the rural population. Large estates of more than fifty square kilometres accounted for about 20 percent of all farmland, but few such estates were worked in efficient, large-scale units. Small-scale peasant farming and the growth of the rural population increased the amount of land used for agricultural development, but land was used more for gardens and fields of grain and less for grazing meadows than it had been in the past.
    • One key economic area that saw little reform during the reign of Alexander II was the government's taxation policies. The peasants were still forced to bear the heavy burden of the poll tax, which the gentry were exempt from and which rose by 80% over Alexander's reign.
    • In the financial sphere, Russia established the State Bank in 1866, which put the national currency on a firmer footing. The Ministry of Finance supported railroad development, which facilitated vital export activity, but it was cautious and moderate in its foreign ventures. Due to the focus on finance industrial growth was significant during Alexander II’s reign, although unsteady, and in absolute terms it was not extensive.
    • The Russian railway system developed from 1,600 km in 1861 to over 22,000 in 1878 (though this was still small compared internationally and given Russia's immense size).
      • This growth in railways helped to provide the empire with greater internal coherence (through improved communications) and to stimulate internal trade (chiefly though reducing the price of grain in the key cities of the north,
        • which in turn encouraged urbanisation and further industrialisation).
    • By 1890 Russia had about 32,000 kilometres of railroads and 1.4 million factory workers, most of whom worked in the textile industry.
    • Between 1860 and 1890, annual coal production had grown about 1,200 percent to over 6.6 million tons, and iron and steel production had more than doubled to 2 million tons per year
    • The state budget had more than doubled, however, and debt expenditures had quadrupled, constituting 28 percent of official expenditures in 1891.
    • The state budget had more than doubled, however, and debt expenditures had quadrupled, constituting 28 percent of official expenditures in 1891.
    • Foreign trade was inadequate to meet the empire's needs. Until the state introduced high industrial tariffs in the 1880s, it could not finance trade with the West because its surpluses were insufficient to cover the debts


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