This paper investigates foreign labor migration from the Western region of the Russian empire, which from the late 19th to early 20th century provided the most economic emigrants. Special emphasis is placed on labor migration to overseas countries (USA, Argentina, Brazil, etc.). The authors consider the impact of temporary labor migration on agriculture, land-utilization, and other economic sectors of this region. They also study attempts of local and central authorities to work out an official position on regulating labor migration. The essay introduces new sources that allow us to refine our understanding of the attitude of Russian authorities towards labor migration. The authors conclude that the wide scale of labor migration and financial means invested into the regional economy made the authorities reconsider their attitude about letting parts of the population of western provinces go abroad to make a decent livelihood. Realizing that on a national scale labor migration was an undesirable phenomenon, the authorities had no choice but to acknowledge that for its western regions, its role was largely positive: it reduced social tension, mitigated competition for job opportunities, improved the local population’s wellbeing, and provided a solution to the problem of land scarcity and enabled implementation of the Stolypin’s agrarian program in the region. All of this, along with a shadow economy around emigration, led authorities to find ways of legalization and legal response to foreign labor migration. Discussion of these issues showed that incoherence, lack of a clear understanding of measures for regulating labor migration, and differences in departmental vested interests prevented implementing meaningful solutions before World War I, which put an end to both the movement of labor across the western border and the development of a regulatory environment.
|Translated title of the contribution||‘The Economic Importance and the Attempts to Regulate the Foreign Labor Migration in the Western Part of the Russian Empire (late 19th — early 20th Century)|
|Journal||Новейшая история России|
|Publication status||Published - 2020|