The Journal of Economic History


Great War, Civil War, and Recovery: Russia's National Income, 1913 to 1928

Andrei Markevicha1 and Mark Harrisona2

a1 Assistant Professor, New Economic School, Suite 1721, Nakhimovskii Prospekt 47, 117418 Moscow, Russia; and Associate Fellow of the Department of Economics, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom. E-mail:

a2 Professor, Department of Economics and CAGE, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom; and a Research Fellow of the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, United Kingdom; and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. E-mail:


The last remaining gap in the national accounts of Russia and the USSR in the twentieth century, 1913 to 1928, includes the Great War, the Civil War, and postwar recovery. Filling this gap, we find that the Russian economy did somewhat better in the Great War than was previously thought; in the Civil War it did correspondingly worse; war losses persisted into peacetime, and were not fully restored under the New Economic Policy. We compare this experience across regions and over time. The Great War and Civil War produced the deepest economic trauma of Russia's troubled twentieth century.

(Online publication September 13 2011)

Earlier versions of this article were presented at the World Economic History Congress, Utrecht, August 3 to 7, 2009, the Higher School of Economics annual conference, Moscow, April 6 to 8, 2010, and the seminar of the New Economic School, Moscow, November 11 to 13, 2010. The authors thank Sergei Afontsev, Elizabeth Brainerd, Philip R. Coelho, Michael Ellman, Iurii Goland, Sergei Guriev, Paul R. Gregory, Sherman Xiaogang Lai, Andrei Poletaev, Stephen Wheatcroft, Gavin Wright, and the editor and referees for advice, and Natalia Gonzalez and Marina Tsetlin for assistance. Markevich thanks the New Economic School for its support and facilities. Harrison thanks the University of Warwick for research leave and the Hoover Institution for generous hospitality.