Labour scarcity and labour coercion: Serfdom in Bohemia

Dr Alex Klein

A new blog was published yesterday in Vox EU by Dr Alex Klein, Senior Lecturer and Sheilagh Ogilvie, Professor of Economic History at the University of Cambridge.


A famous hypothesis posits that serfdom was caused by factor endowments, specifically high land-labour ratios. Historical evidence seems to refute this idea, but with substantial identification problems. This column uses microdata for more than 11,000 Bohemian villages in the year 1757 to control for other potential influences on serfdom. The results support the factor endowments hypothesis, with higher land-labour ratios intensifying serfdom, suggesting that institutions are partially shaped by economic fundamentals.

Read the complete blog here.