Russia's Economy
1815-1855

Russia's Economy
1881-1894






Russia's Economy, 1855-1881



For her industrial expansion, for keeping up a large army, for the many political reforms Russia needed money. Much of the money for Russia's railways etc. was raised in form of loans abroad.
Alexander II.'s reforms were well-intended, but threatened to over-extend Russia's ability to pay for them. The peasants often were unable to pay their redemption dues; the massive international debts were a constant strain on Russia's finances, and the war of 1877/1878, although militarily a brilliant success, was too much for Russia to handle; she had to default on her debt payments. The industrialization took off; the mining industry expanded, particularly the Oil industry (Baku) went through a boom.
When Alexander ascended to the throne, Russia had a combined total of c. 1,000 km of railroads. In 1860 it were 1,626 km, from then on growing rapidly, to 3,842 km in 1865, 10,731 km in 1870, 19,029 km in 1875, 22,865 km in 1880; Russia's railroad network still being shorter than those of highly industrialized - and considerably smaller - nations such as the United Kingdom and Germany.
Russia's output of pig iron had increased from 251,000 metric tons in 1855 to 359,000 metric tons in 1870 and 449,000 metric tons in 1880, only a fraction of what the industries of the United Kingdom (7,873,000) and Germany (2,468,000) were producing (1880). Russia's figures, in comparison, are even worse when it comes to the output of her coal mines - 0.3 million metric tons in 1860, 3.3 million in 1880 compared to 149 million (UK), 59.1 million (Germany).

The pace of industrialization was faster in Russia than in the industrialized nations of western Europe. Russia, however, had to cope with a number of problems - a population that grew faster than those in the industrialized nations (1855 : 71.1 million, 1870 : 84.5 million, 1880 : 97.7 million), an infrastructure which was clearly inferior (railroad net density), vast distances and an adverse climate, lack of skilled labour and qualified engineers, and a comparatively weak domestic market - the peasants and workers had little money to spend.


Russian Government Revenue and Expenditure, 1855-1881
Source : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics 1750-1988, pp. 798, 814
figures in Russian Silver Roubles
Year

1855
1856
1857
1858
1859
1860
1861
1862
1863
1864
1865
1866
1867
1868
Revenue

209,000,000
232,000,000
241,000,000
248,000,000
279,000,000
278,000,000
330,000,000
291,000,000
344,000,000
324,000,000
356,000,000
345,000,000
402,000,000
406,000,000
Expenditure

526,000,000
619,000,000
348,000,000
363,000,000
351,000,000
438,000,000
414,000,000
393,000,000
432,000,000
437,000,000
428,000,000
438,000,000
460,000,000
492,000,000
Year

1869
1870
1871
1872
1873
1874
1875
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1881
Revenue

436,000,000
460,000,000
488,000,000
490,000,000
510,000,000
531,000,000
558,000,000
540,000,000
526,000,000
601,000,000
645,000,000
629,000,000
652,000,000
Expenditure

535,000,000
564,000,000
557,000,000
583,000,000
612,000,000
602,000,000
605,000,000
704,000,000
1,121,000,000
1,076,000,000
812,000,000
793,000,000
840,000,000








EXTERNAL
FILES
Kevin Fink, The Beginnings of Railways in Russia, 1991
The History of Oil in Azerbaijan, from Azerbaijan International
Industrial Revolution in Baku and the Founding of the Azerbaijan Republic, from ITSC Nasiraddin Tusi
Russian Monetary System. Historical Overview : Alexander II. (1855-1881), by Andrey D. Ukhrov
DOCUMENTS Russian silver coins issued under Alexander II. and III., from S. Sekine's Collection
REFERENCE


This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on August 24th 2006

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