UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Martin Petrick, Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe

Was Marx right after all? The economics of polarized class structure in post-Soviet agriculture

Date and Location

Monday, October 17, 2011, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Conference Room, 2102 Social Sciences and Humanities


The classical combatants on the "agrarian question" disagreed whether farming under capitalism would evolve towards a large-scale industry based on hired labour or an independent, family-based peasantry. This controversy has again figured prominently in most recent debates about an appropriate agricultural strategy that ensures global food supply. Taking it as a background, the current presentation explores the structural evolution of post-Soviet agriculture after the introduction of capitalist reforms in the 1990s. It surveys some of the main outcomes of the first transition decade and points out the empirical puzzles standing out for the Western observer, concluding (provocatively) that actual developments were much in line with the propositions of Karl Marx and his followers. By establishing links to the land and labour literature on Latin American agriculture, several microeconomic explanations to resolve these puzzles are put forward. Looking at the case of wheat production in Kazakhstan, the presentation then turns to most recent developments under the food price boom and outlines the contours of a new research agenda.

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