Tsarist Russia: Kulaks, Land Bands and Living Standards

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The Kulaks and the Role of Land Banks

The Kulaks

  • Wealthy peasant entrepreneurs
  • They took advantage of the less favoured and bought out impoverished land
  • They became small capitalist peasant class that employed labour and sometimes acted as pawn brokers
  • They bought peasant grain in autumn and sold it overpriced in spring

Land Banks

  • Held funds and reserves of land to assist peasants
  • 1877-1905: Over 26 million hectares passed to peasants
  • More land would mean better farming methods
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Living Standards

  • Prosperous commercial farming were most prosperous
  • Middle Russia: land was owned by Nobles and was more backwards
  • Areas of former state peasants was better off than emancipated as granted more land
  • Zemstvo survey 1880s: 2/3 farmer serfs in Tambov region were unable to feed household without debt
  • Improvements to health care occurred
  • Mortality rates were higher than other European countries
  • 1890s: Infant mortality was 57.4% of all deaths
  • Average life span: 27.25 for men and 29.83 for women
  • In Britain the average life span was 45.25 years
  • Economic changes of 1881-1904 failed to improve lot of peasantry
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