How Far Do You Agree That the Tsars Did Little to Improve Living and Working Conditions in Russia?

How far do you agree that the Tsars did little to improve living and working conditions in Russia, 1861-1914?

From 1855 to 1917, Russia lived under the rule of three of the most controversial Tsars; Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II. During these years, the living and working conditions in Russia were abysmal. This essay will argue that despite making some changes in an attempt to improve conditions, the Tsars did little to help due to their grave misunderstanding of the lifestyle of the poor.

Living and working conditions in Russia at this time reflect the poverty experienced by 4/5 of the population who were serfs. A lot of the problems that occurred were tied into farming and land. Land was expensive, so few serfs could afford to buy reasonable sized plots, and those who could, often had to pay redemption payments back to the government, to compensate the wealthy for the serfs using their land. Poll tax also rose by 80% on peasant households, despite most peasants not being able to afford to pay their taxes. Due to backward, labour intensive agricultural and farming techniques, crop yields were far below those of Western European countries, which by this point had started to develop and industrialize. This caused the 1891 famine, in which 350,000 people died from starvation in seventeen of the thirty-nine provinces. In addition, the government tried to quell news of the famine spreading, by censoring newspapers. Eventually the price of crops fell, in which case the population rose (due to families now being able to afford to eat.) Some of the serfs did start moving to the cities, sometimes in search of employment, mainly in search for a better life. Although conditions were not much better in the urban areas. Peasants worked long hours with little job security, even by 1918 only 1.88% of the population worked in factories. Diseases such as cholera and typhoid were rife, workers could be found sleeping in cellars next to machinery in factories,...