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Department (Manual Entry)

Feinstein School of Education and Human Development


Alexander V. Chayanov was a Russian economist and rural sociologist killed in Stalin's purges around 1938. He authored a theory of peasant economy that was quite influential in Western economic anthropology since translation of his major work in 1966. Marshall Sahlins successfully used his theory in Stone Age Economics and introduced "Chayanov's rule": "In the community of domestic producing groups, the greater the relative working capacity of the household the less its members work." Peasant societies have certain level of standard consumption determined by what a family with the lowest worker/consumer ratio can attain. In other words, a peasant family will work harder if they have many small children to feed, but when these children grow up and begin to participate in production, the economic activity of the household will taper off, even though the opportunity for creating and accumulating more wealth will be unused.

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