Grain prices in the Russian Empire: did convergence come by train?
This paper studies the behavior of grain prices in the Russian Empire in the period from 1860 to 1913. Using annual historical data, I study 1) the impact of spatial relations between regions on regional disparities in grain prices; 2) the impact of railway network on price differences between regions. I show that the data on prices in provincial cities of the Russian Empire yield strong empirical support for convergence in grain prices across gubernias (regional units) during the period under consideration. Spatial autocorrelation analysis points to the need for taking into account the role of proximity in regional price convergence. Finally, using data on railroads commissioning, I find that the effect of railways on grain price convergence was significant, but rather small. I argue that the effect of railways on price gap reduction increased with the time passed after a pair of gubernias had linked by railroads.