Electronic Repository of Russian Historical Statistics, 18th–21st centuries
With funding from the Dynasty Foundation, work has started in 2010 on the creation of the Electronic Repository for Russian Historical Statistics, 18th — 21st centuries.
The Electronic Repository for Russian Historical Statistics operates on the principle of a historical data-hub, bringing together data extracted from various published and unpublished sources in one place, standardised and made accessible online.
Electronic data repositories are a fundamentally new research tool of growing importance in the human and social sciences. Quantifying human history they offer new prospects for the verification of theories and hypotheses from the social sciences on the basis of long-term statistical evidence. International comparison is an important part of such research.
Recent years have seen a rapid extension of historical statistics made available online. Among the more important ones are:
- the Angus Maddison database (Groningen University, The Netherlands) on cross-country GDP over 2 milleniums
- the International Institute of Social History Historical Prices & Wages project
- the international “Integrated Public Use Microdata Series” project
Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union have so far largely missed out on this development. Whether within the Russian Federation or outside — no databases exist which bring together Russian historical statistics for a variety of social and economic indicators over any substantial length of time. The Electronic Repository of Russian Historical Statistics specifically aims to fill this gap and will be the first large-scale historical database of its kind. It will greatly enhance the possibilities for comparative approaches in the study of Russian history, across time, between regions and within a global setting.
The repository will provide the following basic set of indicators for measuring social and economic development over the last two centuries (19th-21st) for all current subjects of the Russian Federation:
- labour and employment
- production (agriculture, industry, services)
These data will be collected, standardised and made available online for five cross-sections of Russian history. The five cross-sections coincide with crucial junctions in the development of modern Russia and divide the last two centuries into more or less equally long 50-year intervals:
- Late 18th–Early 19th Centuries (1795).
- 1850–1860 (1857)
- Late 19th–Early 20th Centuries (1897)
- 1950s (1959)
- Early 21st century (2002).
For each cross-section data will be gathered for the year mentioned in brackets. These are the years in which population censuses and proto-censuses were held: the fifth and tenth revision in 1795 and 1857 respectively, all-Russian population censuses in 1897, 1959 and 2002. Data-collection for indicators not covered by the population censuses will be pitched to these benchmark-years.
The target audience of the project are scholars in the human and social sciences, as well as the larger public interested in the history of Russia.
From a civil society perspective the solid quantitative database on Russian history will help to de-politicise public debates on Russia’s past and counteract the emergence and spread of historical myths. All too often public debates on crucial aspects of Russia’s economic history of the last two centuries, like the sustainability of pre-revolutionary economic growth or the contribution of forced labour to Stalinist industrialisation, are waged on the basis of political convictions rather than sound quantitative evidence. Such “lessons of the past” can have far-reaching implications for present political and economic decision-making.
Participants of the project
The Electronic Repository of Russian Historical Statistics is a joint international project of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Studies in History, Economy and Society, the International Institute of Social History and the New Economic School.
- Dr. Andrei Markevich is senior lecturer at the New Economic School. He received his education at Moscow State University (1999) and holds a PhD in History from the Russian Academy of Sciences. Andrei was research associate at the International Institute of Social History (2002-2005), and a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Department of Economics of the University of Warwick (Coventry, UK) (2005-2007). He has published on Russian social and economic history in leading international journals in the field, including Economic History Review, Comparative Economic Studies, History of the Family, and Slavic Review.
- Dr. Gijs Kessler is senior research fellow at the International Institute of Social History (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and head of its Russian and Eastern European Desk. He studied history at the Free University of Amsterdam (MA, 1994) and the European University Institute, Florence (PhD, 2001). Gijs is a specialist in the social history of the inter-war Soviet Union and has published in Continuity and Change, History of the Family, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Cahiers du Monde Russe, and other journals.