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Land Reform in Russia

Land Reform in Russia: Institutional Design and Behavioral Responses

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Land Reform in Russia
    Book Description:

    This ambitious work is the definitive account of Russia's land reform initiatives from the late 1980s to today. In Russia, a country controlling more land than any other nation, land ownership is central to structures of power, class division, and agricultural production.

    The aim of Russian land reform for the past thirty years-to undo the collectivization of the Soviet era and encourage public ownership-has been largely unsuccessful. To understand this failure, Stephen Wegren examines contemporary land reform policies in terms of legislation, institutional structure, and human behavior. Using extensive survey data, he analyzes household behaviors in regard to land ownership and usage based on socioeconomic status, family size, demographic distribution, and regional differences. Wegren's study is important and timely, as Russian land reform will have a profound effect on Russia's ability to compete in an era of globalization.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15640-9
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  5. Note on Transliteration and Sources
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
  6. Glossary
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. Part One: Policy Design and Legislative Context

    • 1 Russia’s Contemporary Land Reform: An Overview
      (pp. 3-27)

      During the twentieth century Russia initiated four land reforms, the first three of which are commonly referred to as “great” land reforms. Each of those three had definite ending points, whereas the fourth land reform is ongoing.¹ This book analyzes Russia’s most recent land reform, begun in the late 1980s and bursting onto the political scene in late 1990. The principal theoretical question around which this study is structured is: What has been the impact of formal institutional change on household behavior? Drawing on institutional economics, the premise posits a link between the design of reform and behaviors that follow....

    • 2 Politics and Property Rights in the Soviet Period
      (pp. 28-50)

      My analysis of contemporary land reform in Russia begins by reviewing property rights as they existed in the late Soviet period. In particular, this chapter discusses the evolution of legislation during 1990–91 at the national level (the USSR) and in the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR). The purpose of this review is to provide contextual background and to form a basis for understanding the emergence of postcommunist legislation.

      During the Soviet period individuals had land rights, but these rights were those of users, not landowners.¹ As established in the 1922 Land Code and Soviet Constitution, there was no...

    • 3 Politics and Property Rights in the Yeltsin Period, 1992–99
      (pp. 51-76)

      Chapter 2 argued that by the end of the Soviet period, land reform had little real effect in expanding property rights for the bulk of the rural population or in changing either the social structure or the class structure of rural society. The nascent stratum of new producers (private farmers) was economically and politically weak. Thus land reform policies at this time were directed more at tearing down the old system than at building up a new system, similar to the process of “creation destruction” described by Schumpeter.¹

      This chapter is structured around the following questions. (1) What was the...

    • 4 Politics and Property Rights in the Putin Period and Beyond
      (pp. 77-104)

      By the time Boris Yeltsin left the political scene at the end of 1999, myriad social and economic problems plagued the nation: widespread corruption, administrative fragmentation and a weak center, criminalization of the economy, an inability to collect tax revenues, significant economic contraction in both industry and agriculture, a deformed internal market and the rise of a feudal economic system, insecure property rights, chronic wage arrears and rising internal debt, and the lack of sufficient restructuring to make Russian industry competitive in the global market.¹ Some have argued that the economic recovery that began in the last year of Yeltsin’s...

  8. Part Two: Behavioral Responses

    • 5 Rural Households’ Land Holdings, Enlargement, and Rental
      (pp. 107-137)

      The three preceding chapters analyzed the policy context and evolution of land legislation in the late communist and postcommunist periods, concluding that although property rights became “liberalized” in comparison to the communist period, they remained more restricted and limited in Russia than in most Western nations or even in comparison to several other postcommunist states in Europe.¹ Those chapters suggested that the irony of Russian land reform is found in the fact that the original goals were not attained. Not only were Soviet-era state and collective farms not broken up, but the new corporate farms are larger than the previous...

    • 6 The Effects of Land Reform: Stratification and Class Development
      (pp. 138-163)

      Chapter 5 illustrated that considerable constraints are discernible at the household level due to the design of reform. It was shown that most rural households do not have much real agricultural land. In this respect, contemporary land reform has been illusory for many rural dwellers—households did not receive much actual land on a per capita basis, and most households have only fractionally more land after reform than they had during the Soviet period. If property is the basis for economic and political power, not much change has taken place since the end of the Soviet Union in terms of...

    • 7 The Effects of Rural Demographics and Labor on Households’ Land
      (pp. 164-190)

      The design of Russia’s land reform determined the types and sizes of land plots used or owned by most rural households. It has been shown that privateownershipof large tracts of agricultural land was not broad-based among the rural population. Private farmers, farm managers, and households at the upper end of the income continuum were shown to be the main beneficiaries in terms of land expansion, but these cohorts comprise a small stratum of the rural population. It has also been argued that the way land reform policies were defined also contributed to rural stratification and more recently to...

    • 8 The Regional Impact on Households’ Land
      (pp. 191-215)

      Russia’s geography and climate differ greatly from region to region. Due to its size and diversity, we should not necessarily expect uniform responses to economic reform policies, just as other elements of postcommunist reform have varied from region to region.¹ Even in a relatively small country local variables may be significant. Rosemary Hopcroft observed that “important regional differences arose in agricultural and economic development in late medieval and early modern England, despite common state policies and institutions throughout England. These regional differences are best explained by the nature of local economic institutions, and not by state policies and institutions, which...

    • 9 Russia’s Contemporary Land Reform: An Assessment
      (pp. 216-230)

      The Soviet economy and its land tenure regime remained decidedly illiberal even after the introduction of Gorbachev’s reforms, during which he eschewed private property and did not threaten in any significant way vested interests in the countryside. After the Gorbachev period, the introduction of contemporary land reform was a component of the deliberate attempt to move away from a command economy and the Soviet past. Contemporary land reform, now twenty years old, is intended to complement and facilitate the development of capitalism in postcommunist Russia. Both the land reform process and the development of agrarian capitalism in Russia continue to...

  9. Appendix A: Selected Governmental Acts Concerning Land Reform in the USSR and the RSFSR, 1990–91
    (pp. 231-232)
  10. Appendix B: Selected Governmental Acts Concerning Land Reform in the Russian Federation, 1992–2006
    (pp. 233-236)
  11. Appendix C: The Post-Soviet Land Code
    (pp. 237-250)
  12. Appendix D: Survey Methodology and Description of Villages, 1995–2006
    (pp. 251-266)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 267-328)
  14. Index
    (pp. 329-340)