Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

Reinventing perished “Belgium of the East”: new estimates of GDP for inter-war Latvia (1920–1939)

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Cliometrica Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

The British Historian John Hiden once called pre-WWI Latvia “the Belgium of the East” due to its highly advanced manufacturing, serving the Russian market. The independent Latvian nation-state (1918–1940) lost this status together with the industrial equipment, evacuated in 1915–1916 to mainland Russia and never returned. Inter-war Latvia did attempt to “Denmarkize”, i.e., to become an internationally important exporter of food and to re-industrialize. Both its economic success and growth performance are severely contested. According to Roses and Wolf (in: Broadberry S, O’Rourke KH (eds) The Cambridge economic history of modern Europe, vol 2. 1870 to the present. Cambridge UP, Cambridge, pp 183–207, 2010), Latvia’s GDP per capita growth rate was the highest among the European countries in 1929–1938. According to the most authoritative expatriate Latvian account by Aizsilnieks (Latvijas saimniecības vēsture, 1914–1945. Daugava, Stockholm, 1968), the growth stagnated in the years of the authoritarian Karlis Ulmanis regime (1934–1940). Roses and Wolf estimates are indirect. Aizsilnieks grounds his conclusions in the methodologically outdated national income estimates from inter-war times. This paper resolves the controversy by providing direct supply-side time series of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 1920–1939, based on a benchmark estimate of Latvia’s GDP in 1935 by Norkus et al. (Cliometrica, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11698-022-00260-x, 2022). Main findings: The economic growth continued after 1934, but it was not Europe´s top growth performer in 1929–1938. However, in 1922–1938, its growth performance was the best, also due to a very low baseline after the extreme war-related economic destruction. The “Denmarkization” process was only partially successful because agricultural productivity remained low, and the re-industrialization was mainly import-substitution. We also did find that since 1936, Latvia’s GDP per capita grew with substantial stagnation of the sectoral share of agriculture and a re-shift from services to manufacturing.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

© A.Klimantas https://www.mapklimantas.com

Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. See Appendix 1 for demographic data in more detail.

  2. See Appendix 2 for more granular employment data.

  3. Lats was equivalent to 0.2903226 gramme of poor gold, which was also the gold parity of Swiss gold franc, and RM (since 30.08.1924) to 0.3584229 gramme (Valsts statistiskā pārvalde 1930: 305).

  4. The references Ceichners, Zeichner Ceichner, Zeichner, and Ceihners refer to the same person because he authored his publications under his family name with at least four different spellings. For biographical information, see Norkus (2018: 243–244).

  5. Former official exchange rate was £1 = Ls 15.58.

  6. Ceichners concluded that the real output of Latvian agriculture increased by 7.5%, 1929–1932, from 493 to 530 mil. Ls in 1929 prices, although its nominal value (286 mil. Ls) made out only 58% of the 1929 level.

  7. Latvia was next after Australia (1886), Canada (1925), Soviet Russia (1925), Germany (1929), Netherlands (1931), New Zealand (1931), and the United States (1934).

  8. Most estimates in the Maddison Project database for the period before national accounting did become routine activity of national statistical offices, are produced in this way. Examples of its application include van Zanden and Leeuwen (2012), Pryor et al. (1971), Xu et al. (2017) etc.

  9. Scholars working on the periods and countries with scarce data apply mainly a demand-side approach (e.g., Allen (2000), Malanima (2011), Alvarez-Nogal and Prados de la Escosura (2013), Palma and Reis (2019), Pfister (2022), Ridolfi and Nuvolari (2021). Exceptionally rich data environment of research in mediaeval and early modern British history is favourable for the application of the supply-side (Broadberry et al. 2015) and the income-side (Clark 2010) approaches.

  10. Annual surveys of a sample of farms were conducted according to guidelines by the International Institute of Agriculture in Rome, covering their incomes and expenditures, both physical and monetary. Although farm gate prices of individual products covering the whole of Latvia are also available, weights from the Agricultural accounts are used for consistency with Lithuanian estimates and those of livestock. The weights offered by the Agricultural accounts are in basic prices, which is an additional advantage. The comparison of the series obtained from these alternative weights yields an overall difference of < 8% with estimates based on the Agricultural accounts, implying slower growth at the beginning of the inter-war period and faster growth at the end of it.

  11. For a description of its methodology, see Baltais (1937).

  12. The semi productivity-adjusted workforce index was obtained from the index of the number of workers inflated by the productivity figures taken from the Riga workers´ real wage changes.

  13. In 1939, Latvia’s growth was halted by the disruption of its foreign trade by the outbreak of WWII.

  14. Most of their estimates (except for Estonia, Latvia, and Poland) are based on the GDP per capita values in the original Maddison dataset (Maddison 2007). For some countries they may be different from those in the actual Maddison Project dataset (MPD 2020) version, as this most authoritative source of cross-time and cross-country comparable output data was several times updated.

  15. This is the mid-year population for 1938, calculated from data in Table 11.

  16. Currently accessible part of this publication provides exploration of patterns of cross-regional GDP disparity between 97 territorial units of the Russian Empire.

  17. This paper thanks both anonymous reviewers for pointing this limitation out.

  18. The authors are thankful for this observation by one of the anonymous reviewers.

  19. The Latvian government decided to switch to calendar year budgeting from January 1, 1941. The transition budget for 21 months (April 1939–December 1940) was not implemented because of the Soviet occupation from June 1940.

  20. Defined as ratio of domestic food production to domestic consumption (equal to food production minus total food exports plus imports).

References

  • Aizsilnieks A (1968) Latvijas saimniecības vēsture, 1914–1945. Daugava, Stockholm

  • Aldcroft DK (1997) Studies in European inter-war economy.

  • Aldcroft DH (2006) Europe’s third world. The European periphery in the inter-war years. London, Routledge

    Google Scholar 

  • Allen RC (2000) Economic structure and agricultural productivity in Europe, 1300–1800. Eur Rev Econ Hist 3:1–25

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Allen RC (2011) Global economic history: a very short introduction. Oxford UP, Oxford

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Alvarez-Nogal C, Prados de la Escosura L (2013) The rise and fall of Spain (1270–1850). Econ Hist Rev 66(1):1–37

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Amsden A (1989) Asia’s next giant: South Korea and late industrialization. Oxford UP, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Ārons M (1928) Latvija desmit gados: Latvijas valsts nodibināšanas un viņas pirmo 10 gadu darbības vēsture. Iesplests Valsts tipografija, Riga

  • Balabkins N and Šneps M (1993) Kad Latvijā būs labklājības valsts. Tautsaimnieks Kārlis Balodis. Zinātne, Rīga

  • Balodis K (1919) Latwijas isweidoschana : indiwidualā un sozialā Latwvija. Treimans, Riga

  • Balodis K (2013) Ievads tautsaimniecībā un ekonomiskā politika. Ivars Prūsis, Ogre.

  • Baltais J (1937) Konjunktūra un rūpniecibas produkcijas fizisko daudzumu indeksi. Valsts Statistiskas Parvaldes Meneša Biletens 5:455–465

    Google Scholar 

  • Baltais J, Salnais V (1927) Darba statistika 1926. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Baltais J, Salnais V (1931) Darba statistika 1930. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Baltais J, Salnais V (1932) Darba statistika 1931. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Baltais J, Salnais V (1933) Darba statistika 1932. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Baltais J, Salnais V (1935) Darba statistika 1934. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Baltais J, Salnais V (1936) Darba statistika 1935. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Baltais J, Salnais V (1937) Darba statistika 1936. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Berend TI (1998) Decades of crisis: Central and Eastern Europe before World War II. University of California Press, Berkeley

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Berend TI (2006) An economic history of twentieth-century Europe: economic regimes from laissez-faire to globalization. Cambridge UP, Cambridge

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Berg-Schlosser D, Mitchell J (eds) (2002) Authoritarianism and democracy in Europe, 1919–39: comparative analyses. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke

    Google Scholar 

  • Bērziņš V (ed) (2003) 20. gadsimta Latvijas vesture II. Neatkariga valsts 1918–1940. Latvijas vestures instituta apgads, Riga

  • Bīlmans A, Izaks J, Skalbe L (eds) (1928) Latvijas Republika desmit pastāvēšanas gados. A/S Golts un Jurjans, Riga

    Google Scholar 

  • Broadberry S, Campbell BMS, Klein A, Overton M, van Leeuwen B (2015) British economic growth, 1270–1870. Cambridge UP, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Buševics A (1930) Kur izeja?: Latvijas tautsaimniecības attīstības problēmi. Rīga : Kultūras Balss, 1930

  • Ceichners A (1931a) Tautas ienakums. Ekonomists 17:587–595

    Google Scholar 

  • Ceichners A (1931b) Latvijas tautas bagātība un valsts saimnieciskās polītikas iespaids uz tās attīstību (typescript). Library of the University of Latvia in Riga, Riga

    Google Scholar 

  • Ceichners A (1927) Tautas manta un tautas ienākums. Ekonomists 8: 305–313; 9:345–352; 10: 389–394; 11:425–432

  • Ceichners A (1933a) Tautas ienakums krizes gados. Ekonomists 13–14: 497–502; 15–16: 558–562.

  • Ceichners A (1933b) Die Veränderungen im Volkseinkommen Lettlands in den Krisenjahren 1931–1933b In: Bokalders J (ed) Lettlands Ökonomist, pp 125–140. Finanzministerium, Riga

  • Ceichners A (1933c) Galvenās pārmaiņas Latvijas tautas saimniecībā un valsts saimnieciskā polītikā 1930–1932 krīzes gados (typescript). Riga, Library of the University of Latvia in Riga.

  • Ceichners A (1934–1935) Tautas manta. In: Švābe A, Būmanis A, Dišlers K (eds) Latviešu konversācijas vārdnīca, vol. 11. Grāmatu apg. A. Gulbi. Rīga, pp 20763–20814

  • Ceichners A (1937) Lauksaimniecība un zemnieki—Latvijas pamats. Zemnieka Domas, Rīga.

  • Ceichners A (1943) Was Europa drohte: die Bolschewisierung Lettlands 1940–1941. [s.n.], Riga.

  • Chesnais JC (2001) The demographic transition: stages, patterns, and economic implications: a longitudinal study of sixty-seven countries covering the period 1720–1984. Clarendon Press

  • Clark G (2010) The macroeconomic aggregates for England, 1209–2008. Res Econ Hist 27:51–140

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davidsons P, Maldups A (eds) (1937) Darba statistika 1936. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Dresdner Bank (1930) The economic forces of the world. 3rd revised ed. Dresdner Bank, Berlin

  • Dunsdorfs E (1973) Latvijas vēsture 1710–1800. Daugava, Stockholm

  • Edvinsson R (2018) Main page. Sweden. http://www.historicalstatistics.org Accessed 15 September 2022

  • Feinstein C, Temin P, Toniolo G (1997) The European economy between the wars. Oxford UP, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Feldmanis I (2014) Vācbaltiešu izceļošana no Latvijas (1939–1941), 2nd edn. Latvijas Universitātes Akadēmiskais apgāds, Riga

    Google Scholar 

  • Figes O (2014) A people’s tragedy: the Russian revolution 1891–1924. The Bodley Head, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Fridbergs A, Skuja J (eds) (1939) Lauksaimniecības rentabilitate 1935/36, 1936/37 un 1927/37 saimniecības gada. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Gibbons J (1939) Keepers of the Baltic gates. Robert Hale Limited, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Good DF (1996) Economic growth in Europe’s third world: central and Eastern Europe, 1870–1989, In: Aldrcroft DF, Catterall RE (eds) Rich Nations-Poor Nations. The Long-Run Perspectve. Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, pp 65–82

  • Graham MW Jr (1927) New governments of Eastern Europe. Henry Holt and Company, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Gregory PF (1994) Before command: an economic history of Russia from emancipation to the first five-year. Princeton, Princeton

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Grytten OH (2022) Revising growth history: new estimates of GDP for Norway, 1816–2019. Econ Hist Rev 75(1):181–202

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grytten O, Norkus Z, Markevičiūtė J, Šiliņš J (2022) Can the economic growth of inter-war Latvia be estimated by contemporary national accounts? Baltic J Econ 22(2):90–109

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gulian PV (1982) Latvija v sisteme narodnogo khoziaistva SSSR, 2nd edn. Zinatne, Riga

    Google Scholar 

  • Hiden J, Salmon P (1991) The Baltic nations and Europe. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in the Twentieth century. Longman, London

  • Institut International D’Agriculture (1939) Annuaire International de Statistique Agricole 1938–39. Institut International D’Agriculture, Rome

    Google Scholar 

  • Janos AC (2000) East Central Europe in the modern world: the politics of the borderlands from pre- to post-communism. Stanford UP, Stanford

    Google Scholar 

  • Jurēvics J (ed) (1939) Pirmā tirdzniecības skaitīšana Latvijā 1935, vol 2. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

    Google Scholar 

  • Kahk J, Tarvel E (1997) An economic history of the Baltic countries. Stockholm, Stockholm UP

  • Kālniņš J, Pinke G (2012) Okupācijas zaudējumu noteikšana: Latvijas attīstības trajektorijas hipotētiskais novērtējums, ja tā nebūtu okupēta. In: Prikulis J (ed) Padomju Savienības nodarītie zaudējumi Baltijā. Latvijas Okupācijas izpētes biedrība, Riga, pp 117–125

  • Karnups VP (2012) The 1936 devaluation of the Lat and its effect on Latvian foreign trade”. Human Soc Sci Latvia 20(1):49–62

    Google Scholar 

  • Karnups VP (2013) Latvia as an entrepôt prior to WWI: effects of trade and industrialisation. Human Soc Sci Latvia 21(1):18–30

    Google Scholar 

  • Karnups VP (2021) Latvian-Norwegian economic relations 1918–1940. Human Soc Sci Latvia 29(1):55–67

    Google Scholar 

  • Karnups VP (2022) The little country that could: Latvian economic relations and foreign trade with various countries in the inter-war period. University of Latvia Press, Riga

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Karnups VP (2017) Neatkarīgas valsts tautsaimniecības 102 nostiprināšanās posms (1920–1933). In: Krūmiņš G (ed) Latvijas tautsaimniecības vēsture. Jumava, Rīga, pp 102–133

  • Kasakaitis A [1930] (1990) Vidurinis ir aukštesnysis mokslas Lietuvoj 1918–1928. In Pirmasis nepriklausomos Lietuvos dešimtmetis (2nd edn (reprint from 1930)). Šviesa, Kaunas, pp 319–334

  • Kasekamp A (2018) A history of the baltic states, 2nd edn. Palgrave, London

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Kaur U (1962) Wirtschaftsstruktur und Wirtschaftspolitik des Freistaates Estland, 1918–1940. Baltisches Forschungsinstitut Universität Bonn, Bonn

    Google Scholar 

  • Kiely YR (1998) Industrialisation and development: a comparative analysis. UCL Press, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Kirby D (1995) The Baltic world, 1772–1993: Europe’s Northern Periphery in an Age of Change. Longman, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Klimantas A, Zirgulis A (2020) A new estimate of Lithuanian GDP for 1937: How does inter-war Lithuania compare? Cliometrica 14:227–281. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11698-019-00189-8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Klimantas A (2023) Lithuanian economy, 1919–1940: stagnant but resilient. The first inter-war GDP time-series estimates and their implications. Scandinavian Economic History Review (under review)

  • Kõll AM, Valge J (1998) Economic nationalism and industrial growth: state and industry in Estonia 1934–39 Stockholm: Centre for Baltic Studies

  • Kõll AM (1994) Peasants on the world market: agricultural experience of independent Estonia, 1919–1939. Stockholm, Almqvist and Wiksell International

  • Krastiņš O (2000) Gadsimts Latvijas mežos. Latvijas Vēstnesis, 30.03.2000., no. 115/116

  • Krastiņš O (2001) Latvijas saimniecības vēsturiskā pieredze: 1918–1940. 2. exp. ed. Latvijas Valsts Agrārās Ekonomikas Institūts, Rīga

  • Krastiņš E (2018) Latvijas rūpniecība XIX–XXI gadsimtā: vēsturiski ekonomiska apcere. Jumava, Rīga

  • Krūmiņš G, Šiliņš J (2017) Latvijas tautsaimniecība no 19. Gadsimta 27 pēdējām desmitgadēm līdz Pirmajam pasaules karam (1914). In: Krūmiņš G (ed) Latvijas tautsaimniecības vēsture. Jumava, Rīga, pp 27–64

  • Krūmiņš G (1935) Apdrošināšana Baltijas valstīs un Somijā. Izdevējs Jēkabs Krūmiņš, Rīga.

  • Kuznets S (1971) Economic growth of nations: total output and production structure. Belknap Press of Harvard UP, Cambridge

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Kuznets S (1966) Modern economic growth, rate, structure and spread. Yale UP, New Haven

  • Laar M (2002) Estonia: little country that could. Centre for Research into Post-Communist Economies: London: Centre for Research into Post-Communist Economies

  • Latvian State Historical Archives (LSHA) 1308, inv. 11, file 18987

  • Latvian State Historical Archives (LSHA) 5192, inv. 1, file 846

  • Latvian State Historical Archives (LSHA). 5192, inv. 1, file 847.

  • Latvijas PSR Ministru Padomes Centrālā statistikas pārvalde (1965). Padomju Latvija skaitļos: statistiko datu kräjums. Riga: Izd. “Statistika“ Latvijas Nodaļa.

  • Latvijas PSR Tautsaimniecības statistikas pārvalde (1940) Latvijas PSR statistikas tabulas 1940. g. Latvijas PSR Tautsaimniecības statistikas pārvalde, Riga

  • League of Nations (1946) The course and control of inflation: a review of monetary experience in Europe after the First World War. League of Nations, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  • Lethbridge E (1985) National income and product. In: Kaser MC, Radice EA (eds.), The economic history of Eastern Europe 1919–1975, vol 1. Economic structure and performance between the two wars. Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp 532–597

  • Mačiulis D (2011) Jonas Šliūpas ir lietuvių-latvių vienybės idėja. Acta Humanitarica Universitatis Saulensis 12:83–98

    Google Scholar 

  • Maddison Project Database, version 2020. Accessed 29 September 2022 https://www.rug.nl/ggdc/historicaldevelopment/maddison/releases/maddison-project-database-2020

  • Malanima P (2011) The long decline of a leading economy: GDP in central and northern Italy, 1300–1913. Eur Rev Econ Hist 15:169–219

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Maldups A (ed) (1926). Latvijas lauksaimniecība 1920–1925 g. Tekošā statistika. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Maldups A (ed) (1931) Latvijas lauksaimniecība 1930. g. Piektais izdevums. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Maldups A (ed) (1932) Latvijas lauksaimniecība 1931. g. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Maldups A (ed) (1934) Latvijas lauksaimniecība 1933. g. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Maldups A (ed) (1935) Latvijas lauksaimniecība 1934. g. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Maldups A (ed) (1936) Latvijas lauksaimniecība 1935. g. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Maldups A (ed) (1937) Latvijas lauksaimniecība 1936. g. Vienpadsmitais izdevums. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Maldups A (1938a). Latvija skaitlos 1938. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Maldups A (ed) (1938b) Latvijas lauksaimniecība 1937. g. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Maldups A (ed) (1938c) Vispārīgā sēumu un mājlopu skaitīšana Latvijā 1935. gadā. Vol.5. Aramzemes izmantošana. Vol. 6. Dārzaugu kultūras un augļu dārzi. Rīga: Valsts statistiskā pārvalde

  • Maldups A (ed) (1939) Latvijas lauksaimniecība 1938. g. Trispadzmitais gada gajums. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Maldups A (ed) (1940) Latvijas lauksaimniecība 1939. g. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Malinowski M, Van Zanden JL (2017) National income and its distribution in preindustrial poland in a global perspective. Cliometrica 11(3):375–404

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Markevich A (2019) A regional perspective on the economic development of the late Russian Empire (May 14, 2019). https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2555273

  • Markon I (1951) Ocherki po istorii promyshlennosti Latvii. Latgosizdat, Riga

  • McCombie JSL, Thirlwall AP (1994) Economic growth and the balance-of-payments constraint. St. Martin’s, New York

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Mironov BN (2000) The Social History of Imperial Russia, 1700–1917, vol. 1–2. Westview Press, Boulder

  • Naber J (1996) Volksbildung und Schulen der Esten in Est-und Livland im Zeitalter der Aufklärung. In: Elias O-H, Jürjo I, Kivimäe S, von Pistohlkors G (eds) Aufklärung in den Baltischen Provinzen Russlands. Ideologie und soziale Wirklichkeit. Böhlau, Köln, pp 73–94

  • Nadziņš R (1999) Latvijas 80 gadi statistikas spogulī. Latvijas Republikas Centrālā statistikas pārvalde, Riga

    Google Scholar 

  • Netesin YN (1958) Rabochee dvizhenije v Rige v period stolypinskoj reakcii. Izd-vo Akademii nauk Latv. SSR, Riga

  • Netesin YN (1980) Promyshlennyi kapital Latvii (1860–1917 gg.): K izucheniyu sotsial’no-ekomicheskikh predposylok Velikoi Oktjabr’skoi Socialisticheskoi Revoliutsii. Zinatne, Riga

  • Norkus Z (2016) Apie pirmuosius nacionalinių pajamų skaičiavimus tarpukario Lietuvoje ir Albino Rimkos juose padarytas klaidas, pagreitinusias demokratijos žlugimą. Lietuvos Istorijos Studijos 38:42–71

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Norkus Z (2018) First calculations of the total output of Latvia and Lithuania in the 1920s: a comparison. J Baltic Stud 49(2):241–261

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Norkus Z (2019) The economic output growth of Baltic countries in 1913–1938: a quantitative cross-country comparison. J Baltic Stud 50(2):183–203

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Norkus Z, Markevičiūtė J (2021) New estimation of the gross domestic product in Baltic countries in 1913–1938. Cliometrica 15:565–674. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11698-020-00216-z

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2021a) Population movement in Latvia, 1919–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/XEN1RI, V1

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2021b) Population of cities and towns in Latvia (within inter-war borders), 1897–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/Y7GYKI, V2

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2021c) Number of population in counties in Latvia, 1919–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/SJNAVH, V.2

  • Norkus Z, Morkevičius V, Markevičiūtė J (2021d) From warfare to welfare states? Social and military spending in the Baltic States 1918–1940. Scand Econ Hist Rev 69(1):1–21

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2022a) Monthly wholesale price index in Latvia, 1919–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/B2O9NH, V2

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2022b) Monthly index of food products retail trade sales in Latvia, 1919–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/PC5FOH, V2

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2022c) Volume and value of crop production in Latvia, 1919–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/GYND19

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2022d) Volume and value of animal production in Latvia, 1919–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/IP1WAZ

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2022e) Number of cattle in Latvia, 1919–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/CDFC51

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2022f) Latvia imports, 1919–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/RCPUYT

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2022g) Number of teachers in primary schools in Latvia, 1919–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/FLNDMC

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2022h) Number of teachers in secondary schools in Latvia, 1919–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/RW0TBA

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2022i) Number of academic staff in universities in Latvia, 1919–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/JC5EBL

  • Norkus Z, Ambrulevičiūtė A, Markevičiūtė J, Morkevičius V, Žvaliauskas G (2022j) Number of medical staff (N) in Latvia, 1919–1939. Lithuanian Data Archive for HSS (LiDA). https://hdl.handle.net/21.12137/80DCTI

  • Norkus Z, Jasilionis D, Grytten OH, Mežs I, Klesment M (2022k) Mortality transition in the inter-war Baltic states: findings from cross-country comparison of new life tables. Scand Econ Hist Rev. https://doi.org/10.1080/03585522.2022.2106301

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Norkus Z, Markevičiūtė J, Grytten OH, Šiliņš J, Klimantas A (2022l) Benchmarking Latvia’s economy: a new estimate of gross domestic product in the 1930s. Cliometrica. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11698-022-00260-x

  • Norkus Z (2012) On Baltic Slovenia and Adriatic Lithuania. A qualitative comparative analysis of patterns in post-communist transformation. CEU Press, Budapest

    Google Scholar 

  • Norkus Z (2014) Du nepriklausomybės dvidešimtmečiai: kapitalizmas, klasės ir demokratija Pirmojoje ir Antrojoje Lietuvos Respublikoje lyginamosios istorinės sociologijos požiūriu. Aukso žuvys, Vilnius

  • Palma N, Reis J (2019) From convergence to divergence: portuguese economic growth, 1527–1850. J Econ Hist 79(2):477–506

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pasta un telegrāfa departamenta (1938) Latvijas pasts, telegrafs un telefons 1918–1938. Pasta un telegrāfa departamenta izdevums, Rīga

  • Pasvolsky L (1928) Economic nationalism of the Danubian States. Allen and Unwin, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Pfister U (2022) Economic growth in Germany, 1500–1850. J Econ History 82(4):1071–1107. https://doi.org/10.1017/S002205072200033X

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Plakans A (1995) The Latvians. A short story. Hoover Institution Press, Stanford

    Google Scholar 

  • Plakans A (2011) A concise history of the Baltic states. Cambridge UP, Cambridge

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Polson Newman EW (1930) Britain and the Baltic. Methuen & Co: London

  • Pryor FL, Pryor ZP, Stadnik M, Staller GJ (1971) Czechoslovak aggregate production in the inter-war period. Rev Income Wealth 17(1):35–59

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Puravs E (1935) Kooperācijas saimnieciskā nozīme ražojošo spēku attīstībā. Zelta Grauds, Riga

  • Rashin GA (1956) Naselenie Rossii za 100 let. Gosstatizdat, Moskva

  • Raun T (2001-1987) Estonia and the Estonians. Updated, 2nd edn. Hoover Institution Press, Stanford

  • Reichskommissar für das Ostland (1942) Strukturbericht über das Ostland, 1: Ostland in Zahlen. Reichskommissar für das Ostland, Riga

  • Ridolfi L, Nuvolari A (2021) L’histoire immobile? A reappraisal of french economic growth using the demand-side approach, 1280–1850. Eur Rev Econ Hist 25(3):405–428

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Roses JR, Wolf N (2010) Aggregate growth, 1913–1950. In: Broadberry S, O’Rourke KH (eds) The Cambridge economic history of modern Europe, vol 2. 1870 to the present. Cambridge UP, Cambridge, pp 183–207

    Google Scholar 

  • Salnais V (ed) (1939) Pirmā tirdzniecības skaitīšana Latvijā 1935, vol 3. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

    Google Scholar 

  • Salnais V, Jurēvics J (1937) Tirdzniecības uzņēmumu apgrozījumi 1933–1935. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Salnais, V, Jurēvics J (eds) (1938) Pirmā tirdzniecības skaitīšana Latvijā 1935. Vol. 1. Tirdzniecības uzņēmumu skaits un nodarbinātās personas ; tirdzniecības uzņēmumi pēc lieluma grupām. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Salnais V Maldups A (1936a) Pilsētu gruntsgabali un dzīvokļi (pēc 1935. gada tautas skaitīšanas materiāliem). Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Salnais V, Maldups A (1936b) Lauku apdzīvotās vietas: (pēc 1935. g. tautas skaitīšanas materiāliem). Valsts statistiskās pārvalde, Riga

  • Salnais V, Maldups A (eds) (1936c) Vispārīgā sēumu un mājlopu skaitīšana Latvijā 1935. gadā. Vol.1 Saimniecības.Vol. 2. Saimniecību iedzivotaji. Rīga: Valsts statistiskā pārvalde

  • Salnais V, Baltais J (eds) (1938) Latvijas amatniecība un rūpniecība 1935. gada. Vol. 1. Vispārīgās zinās. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Salnais V, Kaimiņš A (eds) (1939a) Latvijas amatniecība un rūpniecība 1935. gada. Vol. 2a. Nodarbinātība un darbaspēks. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga.

  • Salnais V, Kaimiņš A (eds) (1939b) Latvijas amatniecība un rūpniecība 1935. gada. Vol. 2b. Nodarbinātība un darbaspēks. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Salnais V, Maldups A (eds) (1937) Vispārīgā sēumu un mājlopu skaitīšana Latvijā 1935. gadā. Vol.3. Saimniecību zemes izmantošana. Vol. 4. Mājlopi. Rīga: Valsts statistiskā pārvalde

  • Salnītis V (1938) Latvijas Kulturas Statistika 1918–1937. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Salnītis V (ed) (1939) Ceturtā tautas skaitīšana Latvijā 1935. gadā. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Seleckis V (2000) Latvija 10 gados—toreiz un tagad. Rīga: Vērmanparks

  • Siilivask K (1990) Socio-economic development of the Baltic Countries at the beginning of the 20th century. In: Loit A (ed) The Baltic countries 1900–1914: Proceedings from the 9th conference on Baltic studies in Scandinavia, Stockholm, Part. 1, June 3–6, 1987. Stockholm: Stockholm UP, pp 229–244

  • Šilde Ā (1976) Latvijas vēsture 1914–1940. Daugava, Stockholm

    Google Scholar 

  • Šiliņš J (2013) Padomju Latvija 1918–1919. Vēstures izpētes un popularizēšanas biedrība, Riga

  • Skujenieks M (1927) Latvija: zeme un iedzīvotāji. Ar J. Bokaldera nodaļu par lauksaimneecibu. A. Gulbja apgādniecība, Riga

  • Skujenieks M (1928) Latvija 1918–1928 gados. Valsts statistikas pārvaldes izdevums, Riga.

  • Skujenieks M (1938) Latvijas statistikas atlass. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Skujenieks M (1940) Rūpniecības statistika 1938, Trešais gads. Valsts statistikas pārvaldes izdevums, Riga

  • Šneidere IR (1989) Socialisticheskaya industrializacija v Latvii: Khod. Itogi, problemy. Zinatne, Riga

  • Solovjova J (2020) Ten historical and new Latvian ''Start-ups''. https://www.latvia.eu/news/ten-historical-and-new-latvian-start-ups. Accessed 15 Sept 2022

  • Starodubskii LV (1952) Upadok fabrichno-zavodskoi promyshlennosti v burzhuaznoi Latvii. Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk Latvijskoi SSR, Riga

  • Starodubskii LV (1953) Statistika burzhuaznoi Latvii na sluzhbe reakcii. Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk Latvijskoi SSR, Riga

  • Stranga A, Krūmiņš G (2018) No tirgus ekonomikas cauri valsts ekonomikai uz planveida ekonomiku. In: Ijabs I, Kusbers J, Misans I, Oberländer E (eds) Latvija 1918–2018. Valstiskuma gadsimts. Riga: Mansards, pp 251–277

  • Stranga A (2017) Kārļa Ulmaņa autoritārā režīma saimnieciskā politika: (1934–1940). LU Akadēmiskais apgāds, Riga

  • Studenski P (1958) The income of nations. Theory, measurement, and analysis: past and present. New York University Press, Washington Square

  • Švābe A (1958) Latvijas vēsture, 1800–1914. Daugava, Uppsala

  • Tirdzniecības ziņu grāmata (1922) Riga

  • Turnock D (2006) The economy of East Central Europe 1815–1989: Stages of transformation in a peripheral region. Routledge, London

    Google Scholar 

  • United Nations (2009a) The System of National Accounts 2008. United Nations, New York. Accessed 15 September 2022. http://unstats.un.org/unsd/nationalaccount/docs/SNA2008.pdf

  • United Nations (2009b) International standard industrial classification (ISIC) of all economic activities, Revision 4. United Nations, New York. Accessed 15 September 2022. https://unstats.un.org/unsd/publication/seriesm/seriesm_4rev4e.pdf

  • Valge J (2003) Uue majanduse lätteil. Eesti sisemajanduse kogutoodang aastatel 1923–1938. Akadeemia 10–12: 2202–28; 11:2443–87; 12:2712–35

  • Valsts dzelzceļu izdevniecība (1938) Latvijas dzelzceļi, 1918–1938. Valsts dzelzceļu izdevniecība, Riga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1921) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1920. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1922) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1921. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1923) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1922. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1924) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1923. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1925a) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1924. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1925b) Otra tautas skaitīšana Latvijā 1925. I. Iedzīvotāju skaits dzimums um pavalstniecība. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1925c) Otra tautas skaitīšana Latvijā 1925. II. Nodarbošanās. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1926) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1925. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1927) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1926. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1928) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1927. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1929) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1928. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1930) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1929. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1931) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1930. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1932a) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1931. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1932b) Latvijas valsts finanses 1918./1920–1931/1932. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1933) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1932. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1934) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1933. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1935) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1934. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1936a) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1935. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1936b) Finanču un kredita statistika 1936. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1936c) Ceturtā tautas skaitīšana Latvijā 1935. g. I. Iedzīvotāju skaits, dzimums un pavalstniecība. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Riga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1937) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1936. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1938) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1937/38. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1939a) Latvijas statistiskās gada grāmata 1939. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1939b) Finanču un kredita statistika 1939. Valsts statistiskā pārvalde, Rīga

  • van Zanden L, van Leeuwen B (2012) Persistent but not consistent: the growth of national income in Holland 1347–1807. Explor Econ Hist 49(2):119–130

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vaskela G (2014) Tautiniai aspektai Lietuvos ūkio politikoje 1919–1940 metais. Lietuvos istorijos instituto leidykla, Vilnius

  • Viet VQ (2009) GDP by production approach: a general introduction with emphasis on an integrated economic data collection framework. United Nations Statistics Division, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Weiss J (2002) Industrialisation and globalisation: theory and evidence from developing countries. Routledge, London

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Williamson J (2011) Trade and poverty: When the Third World fell behind. MIT Press, Cambridge

  • Wolf HC (2001) Inflation and stabilization in Latvia: 1918–1922. Econ Syst 25(1):33–50

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wolf N (2009) Local comparative advantage: agriculture and economic development in Poland, 170–1973 In: Lains P and Pinilla V (eds) Agriculture and Economic Development in Europe since 1870. Routledge, London, pp 255–285

  • World Bank (1993) The East Asian Miracle. Economic growth and public policy. Oxford UP, New York

  • Xu Y, Shi B, van Leeuwen B, Ni Y, Zhang Z, Ma Y (2017) Chinese National Income, ca 1661–1933. Aust Econ Hist Rev 57(3):368–393

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Žagars Ē (1975). Sociālistiskie pārveidojumi Latvijā 1940–1941. Zinātne, Riga.

  • Zeichner A (1931) Balance of payments, national revenue, and national wealth in the Baltic States. In: Bokalders J (ed) The Latvian Ecomist. Riga: Ministry of Finance, pp 69–93

  • Zīverts K (1940) Tautas ienakums. In: Švābe A, Būmanis A, Dišlers K (eds) Latviešu konversācijas vārdnīca, vol 20. Grāmatu apg. A. Gulbis, Rīga, pp 42303–42305

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge financial support from the Baltic Research Programme project “Quantitative Data About Societal and Economic Transformations in the Regions of the Three Baltic States During the Last Hundred Years for the Analysis of Historical Transformations and the Overcoming of Future Challenges” (BALTIC100), project No. EEA-RESEARCH-174, under the EEA Grant of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway Contract No. EEZ/BPP/VIAA/2021/3. We also gratefully acknowledge the contribution of two anonymous reviewers whose constructive criticisms helped a lot to improve our submission.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jurgita Markevičiūtė.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Appendices

Appendix 1: Latvian Socio-Demographic Data 1897–1939

See Tables 11 and 12.

Table 11 Latvia’s population 1897–1939
Table 12 Distribution of the Latvian workforce by industries, 1925–1935 according to population census data

Appendix 2: Statistical details of sectoral indices construction

Details of value-added series construction for each economic sector of Latvia's inter-war economy are provided in this Appendix. In all cases, the indices are multiplied by the 1935 benchmark figures from Norkus et al. (2022l) and are presented in 1935 Latvian Lats (Ls). In all cases, the value-added-to-output ratio was taken from the benchmark study and was assumed to be constant throughout the inter-war period.

1.1 A2.1 Crops

Crop production volumes (in tons) are available for 11 crop categories, covering the entire 1920–1939 period. The only exceptions were clover hay and meadow hay for which 1920 data was not available. It was assumed that the 1920–1921 change in the production of these two categories moved together with the rest of the crop subsector. Output figures were obtained by multiplying the production volumes by the 1935 weights from the Agricultural accounts (Valsts statistiskā pārvalde 1936a: 134–135) (Table 13).

Table 13 Output of crops, mills 1935 lats.

1.2 A2.2 Livestock

The output series of livestock production was estimated in the same way as in the case of crops. However, individual series for each of the nine categories presented in the Table below were obtained in different ways. The categorization comes from the disaggregated benchmark data provided by the Agricultural accounts which is subsequently used as a weighting source to aggregate the data into the final livestock series. Most of the product categories are covered by the official statistics, except beekeeping for 1920–1922 and poultry for 1920–1927. These are assumed to have moved together with the rest of the subsectors throughout the missing years.

Milk production movement was estimated from the total output of milk (1929–1939), missing years from the number of cows for 1920–1928. Cattle meat (beef and veal) production was estimated from total tons of meat produced (1934–1939), missing years (1923–1933) from output per animal times the number of animals slaughtered, missing years (1920–1923) from the total number of cattle. Other cattle production (hides) from the number of calves and grown-up cattle slaughtered (1923–1939), figures joined using 1938 hide prices, missing years (1920–1923) from the number of cattle.

Pig farming output movement was estimated from the pork meat yield (1934–1939) with missing years from the number of grown-up pigs (1929–1933) and the total number of pigs (1920–1928). The change in sheep farming output was inferred from two production sides—wool and sheep meat (joined by weighting the respective production yields by the 1935 price data). Wool yields were taken from the numbers of sheep and lambs times their respective wool yields per animal (1925–1939, with some gaps in the sheep-lamb ratio filled by extrapolation from the total number of sheep), missing years from the total number of sheep (1920–1924).

Sheep meat output movement was estimated from the sheep meat yield (1934–1939), missing years from the total number of sheep (1920–1933). Poultry farming movement—from the total number of eggs laid (1929–1939, with some gaps filled by extrapolation from the number of chickens), missing years assumed to have moved with the rest of the sector. Movement in the output of beekeeping was estimated from the price-weighted movement in the yield of honey and wax production (1923–1939, with gaps in wax production extrapolated from the honey yield), missing years assumed to have moved with the rest of the sector. Horse farming had two output sides distinguished in the Agricultural accounts—horse output from the horses used for cultivation and from the horse sales. The movement in the former was estimated from the number of grown-up (> 3-year-old) horses (1929–1939), with missing years extrapolated from the total number of horses, and the movement in the latter—from the total number of horses (1920–1939) (Tables 14, 15).

Table 14 Output of livestock production, mills 1935 lats. Sources: weights from Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1936a: 134–135); movement in subsectors: Norkus et al. (2022d, e); Reichskommissar für das Ostland (1942: 5, 27); Latvijas PSR Tautsaimniecības statistikas pārvalde (1940: 120); Maldups (1936: 36); Maldups (1937: 39); Maldups (1938b: 25–28); Maldups (1939: 23–25); Maldups

1.3 A2.3 Forestry and fishing

See Table 15.

Table 15 Production indices of forestry and fishing, 1935 = 100. Sources: Bīlmans et al. (1928: 336); Latvijas PSR Tautsaimniecības statistikas pārvalde (1940: 121, 123); Krastiņš (2000); Reichskommissar für das Ostland (1942: 45); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1927: 131); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1930: 166); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1938: 139). Fishing index for 1920–1923 retropolated from the joint movement of crops, livestock, and forestry

1.4 A2.4 Total primary sector value-added

Crop and livestock indices calculated from total outputs in 1935 prices from Tables 13 and 14. Gross value-added series obtained by multiplying each output index (Tables 15 and 16.) by the value-added figures from the benchmark study (Norkus et al. 2022), assuming a constant value-added to output ratio.

Table 16 Primary sector output indices, 1935 = 100 and gross value-added totals, mills Ls at basic 1935 prices. Sources: Tables 13, 14, 15, Norkus et al. (2022l: 13–16)

1.5 A2.5 Manufacturing and other industrial branches

The benchmark study proceeds according to the ISIC formulae, distinguishing B (Mining and quarrying) C (Manufacturing), D (Electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply), and E (Water supply; sewerage, waste management, and remediation activities). Thus, separate activity indices are produced for B and C, while D and E are merged and accounted for by a single index. For C, there is a robust industrial activity index for 1930–1939 available which is used to cover this period. The rest of the years and the full periods for B, D and E sectors were covered by the semi-adjusted workforce index.

The semi-productivity adjusted workforce index is a version of the productivity-adjusted index used by Klimantas (2023) to estimate the movement in the Lithuanian industrial sector. In Lithuania’s case, the total number of industrial workers in the economy was adjusted by real wage data to account for the productivity changes. The resulting index provided the most reasonable result. However, in Latvia’s case, the comparison of the unadjusted workforce index (solely the change in the number of workers) and adjusted workforce index (weighted by the Riga worker’s real wage data) with the 1930–1939 industrial activity index indicated that the unadjusted index, as expected, fell below the industrial activity index towards the end of the inter-war period, but the adjusted one appeared to be inflated (understandable given the disparity between wages Riga and the rest of Latvia). The comparison is illustrated in Fig. 4. A semi-productivity adjusted workforce index (an average between the two) yielded almost identical results to the industrial activity index. Therefore, it was decided to compile such indices for all the industrial branches (B, C, D and E) to estimate the movement of the respective subsectors.

Fig. 4
figure 4

Comparison of the own-compiled industrial production indices to the official industrial activity index. See sources in the text of this A2.5 section

The data on the number of workers available for all three subsectors for 1925–1939, with the rest of the years being extrapolated from the total number of industrial workers using the 1925–1930 ratio of the respective branch worker numbers to the total (Table 17).

Table 17 Manufacturing and related industrial branches output indices, 1935 = 100 and gross value-added totals, mills Ls at basic 1935 prices.

1.6 A2.6 Construction

See Table 18.

Table 18 Construction sector output indices, 1935 = 100 and gross value-added totals, mills Ls at basic 1935 prices. Sources: Index of new apartments built (1926–1939) from Reichskommissar für das Ostland (1942: 48), rest of the years from urban population change, see Table 6 in the main text

1.7 A2.7 Trade

The shares of crops and livestock marketed were obtained by taking the respective differences between the gross revenues (theoretical revenues farmers were asked to calculate, which included their own consumed parts of the produce) and monetary revenues (revenues received from actual sales of produce) per hectare of land. These data are available for 1929–1938 as given by the Agricultural accounts. The share of forest output marketed was obtained by taking the difference between the total state forest materials issued and the part of them given away for free of charge. Such data are available for 1923–1937. Missing year shares were assumed to be the same as the closest 8–10-year period shares. Both fishing and industrial goods were assumed to have been 100% marketed (Table 19).

Table 19 Trade sector output indices, 1935 = 100 and gross value-added totals, mills Ls at basic 1935 prices. Sources: output of crops from Table 13, livestock from Table 14, forestry and fishing from Table 15, industry from Table 17; marketed shares of crops and livestock from Maldups (1932: 123); Maldups (1934: 183); Maldups (1936: 141: 253); Maldups (1939: 150); Maldups (1940: 196, 191); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1939a, b: 119); marketed shares of forest materials from Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1939a: 123–124); imports data from Norkus et al. (2022f), deflated to 1935 prices by the Riga wholesale price index (Table 3 in the main text). Missing 1920 imports figure linearly interpolated assuming 0 in 1918

1.8 A2.8 Accommodation and food service activities

See Table 20.

Table 20 Accommodation and food service sector totals: output index, 1935 = 100, and gross value-added total, million Ls at basic 1935 prices

1.9 A2.9 Transportation

Movement of railway transportation was estimated from the ton-km and passenger-km figures, joined using the respective revenue shares in Latvian railways in 1925–1926 (the only years with reported revenue compositions). Unavailable 1920 freight and passenger transportation data were extrapolated from the 1920–1921 change in the total volume of goods transported. Water transportation was obtained by calculating the total turnover (internal plus sea freight) of goods shipped via the waterways.

Land and other transportation were assumed to have moved in line with the water transportation series as there are no data on these types of transportation. Some series of bus passenger movements are available but there are no monetary data to join those with the rest of the data (Table 21). Finally, the postal activities movement was estimated from the change in the total number of postal items sent, with the missing 1939 figure extrapolated from the population movement (Table 6).

Table 21 Transportation sector output indices, 1935 = 100, and gross value-added totals, mills Ls at basic 1935 prices. Sources: Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1923: 208); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1924: 225–226); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1925a: 297, 314–315); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1927: 171, 183–184, 367); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1929: 180, 195–196); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1930:183, 197); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1932:169); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1933: 147); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1934: 153, 157); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1937: 179); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1939a: 161, 165, 169); Latvijas PSR Tautsaimniecības statistikas pārvalde (1940: 152, 157); Tirdzniecības ziņu grāmata (1922: 10); Skujenieks (1928: 47, 52) and Table 6 in the main text

1.10 A2.10 Information and communication

Movement in telegraph activities is covered by the number of telegrams sent, with missing 1938–1939 years extrapolated from the number of establishments providing telegraph services in Latvia. The change in telephone service activities was estimated from the number of telephone subscribers and the change in the radio services—from the number of radiophone subscribers. The Latvian radio company was only established in 1925, so it is assumed that the number of radio broadcasts (and thus the activity in the subsector) before that was zero. The missing 1925 number of radiophone subscribers was extrapolated from the change in the 1925–1926 number of radio broadcasts (Table 22).

Table 22 Information and communications sector output indices, 1935 = 100 and gross value-added, mills Ls at basic 1935 prices. Sources: Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1927: 391); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1937: 185); Pasta un telegrāfa departamenta (1938: 106); Latvijas PSR Tautsaimniecības statistikas pārvalde (1940: 159); Reichskommissar für das Ostland (1942: 56)

1.11 A2.11 Financial, insurance activities

The financial and insurance activities are reported in a single figure in the benchmark study. They had to be divided by obtaining the insurance sector GVO in 1935 (Premiums earned (11.0 million Ls), minus benefits paid (4.4 million Ls), plus change in technical reserves (0.7 million Ls) and subtracting its IC (1.9 million Ls), which yields 5.4 million Ls as value-added of the insurance sector. Subtracting this from the total 13.9 million Ls of the whole sector results in 8.5 million Ls as the gross value-added of the financial sector.

Interest rates on loans (8%, Aizsilinieks 1968: 627) and deposits (4%, Valsts statistiskā pārvalde 1936b: 95) were obtained for the benchmark 1935 and then extrapolated for the rest of the years using the closest available average interest rate figure on loans from the Bank of Latvia to account for the overall changes in the lending market. The resulting interest rate series was multiplied by the respective series of loans and short-term deposits to arrive at the series of revenues and expenses from lending activities. The difference between the two yielded the output of financial activities at current prices. The output before 1923, however, appears to be negative and thus the data is deemed unreliable for those periods. Change in population was used to account for subsector changes in 1920–1922. The resulting output series was deflated by the price index to arrive at constant prices, which was then multiplied by the benchmark value-added figure to arrive at the final series.

The data series on insurance premiums paid and received is available for 1921–1938. The missing 1920 and 1939 data were extrapolated from the population movement (Table 23).

Table 23 Finance and insurance sector output indices, 1935 = 100, and gross value-added, mills Ls at basic 1935 prices. Sources: Finance: Aizsilinieks (1968: 627); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1936b: 95, 166–168); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1939a: 90); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1939b: 60–62); Reichskommissar für das Ostland (1942: 68). Insurance: Krūmiņš (1935: 28–29); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1930: 275); Latvijas PSR Tautsaimniecības statistikas pārvalde (1940: 102)

1.12 A2.12 Real estate

The real estate sector is divided into five parts in the benchmark study—government, urban, rural, imputed urban, and imputed rural RE. Movement in government RE activities is assumed to have been reflected by the overall population change, while the urban and rural imputed rent changes—by the urban and rural population movement.

The main urban and rural real estate activities require more attention. It was decided to calculate the taxable bases for both these activities, using the amounts of respective real estate taxes collected, adjusted by the changes in the respective tax rates and deflated by the general price index. Although the tax rate data are blurry, it can be assumed that the urban RE tax rate was 30% in 1926–1930, 50% in 1931–1935 and 40% in 1936–1940, while the rural RE tax rate was constant at 30% in 1926–1940. The tax rates for the earlier years are unknown, thus for 1920–1925 real estate activities are assumed to have been in line with the respective population movements. The amounts of urban and rural real estate tax received by the government are also tricky to acquire.

The total RE tax revenues are available throughout the period in question, but the urban–rural split reporting ends after 1931. Thus, an average urban–rural tax revenue split ratio from 1921–1931 is used to obtain the revenue shares from urban and rural tax for the entire period. These are then divided by the respective tax rates (only 1926–1939) to arrive at current price tax base series. These series are deflated by the price index from Table 3 in the main text, extended by the respective population data from the same table to account for the missing years, resulting in the urban and rural RE activity indices. These are then multiplied by the benchmark value-added figures of urban and rural RE to arrive at their series (Table 24).

Table 24 Real estate sector totals: output indices, 1935 = 100, and gross value-added totals, million Ls at basic 1935 prices. Sources: Table 6 in the main text, Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1932b: 29); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1937: 90); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1939a: 81); Aizsilinieks (1968: 279, 478, 683)

1.13 A2.13 Public administration, defence, and compulsory social security

For explanation, see the respective section in the main text (Table 25).

Table 25 Public administration, defence, and compulsory social security totals: output indices, 1935 = 100, and gross value-added totals, million Ls at basic 1935 prices. Sources: Baltais and Salnais (1927: 66–67); Baltais and Salnais (1931: 177); Baltais and Salnais (1933: 144); Baltais and Salnais (1935: 73); Baltais and Salnais (1936: 100); Baltais and Salnais (1937: 171); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1938: 271); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1939a, b: 249); LSHA 5192–1-847: 5, 205, 336; LSHA 5192–1-846:147

1.14 A2.14 Education and healthcare

The salary data used as weights to combine the numbers of primary, secondary, and tertiary education instructors were taken from Lithuanian data as there was no available information on the respective salaries in Latvia. Secondary and tertiary institution instructors are treated equally as there is no wage differentiation between the two available. In the case of healthcare, separate salary data for doctors and secondary medical personnel (such as midwives) are available for Latvia to use as weights (Table 26).

Table 26 Education and healthcare activity totals: output indices, 1935 = 100, and gross value-added totals, million Ls at basic 1935 prices. Sources: education: Kasakaitis A (1990: 322); Norkus et al. (2022g, h, i). Healthcare: Baltais and Salnais (1937: 191); Norkus et al. (2022j)

1.15 A2.15 Other services

In the benchmark study, the sector M (Professional, scientific, and technical activities) includes the public sector establishments like the Board of Monuments, the State archive, the Veterinary administration, the Latvian statistical office, and private sector services, counted in the 1935 trade census as part of the “trade in broad meaning” (Norkus et al. 2022l). The movements of these activities in the public sector are approximated by the respective employment figures (available for 1931–1937 for all relevant establishments and for 1926–1930 for the Latvian statistical office). Missing data are extrapolated from the overall population change. The change in activities in the private sector is estimated in the same way. The series of employment figures are aggregated into a GVA series using the weights from the 1935 benchmark study (Table 27).

Table 27 Other service activity gross value-added totals, million Ls at basic 1935 prices. Sources: population data from Table 6 in the main text; Baltais and Salnais (1931: 177); Baltais and Salnais (1932: 124–127); Baltais and Salnais (1933: 75–77); Baltais and Salnais (1935: 73–75); Baltais and Salnais (1937: 166–170); Ārons (1928: 215); Salnitis (1938: 122, 144); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1927: 247–57); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1928: 283–287); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1929: 229–233); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1930: 252); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1932: 216–220); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1933: 127–130); Valsts statistiskā pārvalde (1935:131–134); Latvijas PSR Tautsaimniecības statistikas pārvalde (1940: 59); Reichskommissar für das Ostland (1942: 39)

The sector N (Administrative and support service activities) in the benchmark study includes hygiene industry services and other private sector services, belonging to N according to ISIC 4, and covered by the 1935 trade census. The change in the latter is estimated from the population movement data, while in the former—from the number of workers in the hygiene and cleanliness industry provided by the Latvian statistical office for 1925–1934 and 1936–1939. Missing data for the hygiene industry in 1920–1924 are retropolated from the population change during this period.

In the benchmark study, sector R (Arts, entertainment, and recreation) comprises five subsectors (State library, public libraries, theatres, expositions and museums, and additional service activities covered by the 26.06.1935 Trade census). For other years, sources provide only data for theatre activities (number of visitors to drama institutions in Riga, 1921–1937) and library activities (total number of readers in all libraries, 1935–1939). The rest of the sector movement is extrapolated from the urban population change since most of the entertainment activities happened in towns and cities.

Benchmark study uses as primary information on S (Other service activities) from the 26.06.1935 Trade census and miscellaneous sources on the activities of Latvian churches. Neither of these has any series available, thus, it is assumed that these activities moved in line with the population change.

Finally, T (Activities of households as employers) have two components in the benchmark study: Work by farmers outside farms and the activities of domestic workers. As there are again no specific respective series available to approximate the movement in these subsectors, rural population change is used to estimate the change in the former subsector and urban—in the latter.

1.16 A2.16 Composition (in Percentages of Sectoral Shares) of Latvian GDP at Basic Prices in 1920–1939

Table 28 presents data reported in Table 7 and Fig. 2 in the main text in the form which is most convenient to trace changes of sectoral shares in detail.

Table 28 Shares (in % of GDP at basic prices) of main sectors in Latvia ‘s economy in 1920–1939.

Appendix 3: Sensitivity analysis

As already noted in the conclusion, major limitations of the estimates are the usual issues of extrapolation from correlated series and the use of constant GVA/GVO-ratios and GDP at market prices/GDP at basic prices ratios. Additionally, some significant inconsistencies might arise from the mismatch in budgetary, agricultural and calendar years. The official statistics of Latvia often reported figures corresponding to other than the calendar years. For example, all agricultural figures are presented in a’1935/1936’ fashion. The budgetary and agricultural years in Latvia began on April 1st and ended March 31st the following year (Norkus et al. 2021d).

Following the example of this paper, nine out of twelve months of the’1935/1936’ budgetary year belong to the first calendar year. Thus, this paper assumes that in such cases, the figures reported for year’1935/1936’ corresponds to a 1935 figure in calendar terms. This procedure is followed throughout the work. Finally, several service sectors have such poor data coverage that they could only be estimated using the movement in population.

Other types of limitations have relatively small potential impact on total GDP per capita. Those with at least 0.5% maximum impact are summarised in Table 29. The rest, such as bias in urban–rural population, split interpolations, hyper-inflationary (pre-1922) price index estimates and very small subsector data extrapolations, are excluded from the analysis due to negligible effect on total GDP (Table

Table 29 Sensitivity analysis. Own estimates. Notes: the direction and size of bias in each case are selected by the assumed potential deviation of the sources from the real state

29).

As there is no conventional size of bias in any sector used to determine the effect such change might have on the entire GDP, this paper has subjectively chosen the maximum likely percentages of deviation from the figures obtained. In most cases, it was assumed that the figures of separate sectors should not fluctuate more than 10% from the estimates. However, in cases such as those subsectors represented by the population change and the scarcely documented sectors such as real estate or construction, larger potential biases were assumed.

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Klimantas, A., Norkus, Z., Markevičiūtė, J. et al. Reinventing perished “Belgium of the East”: new estimates of GDP for inter-war Latvia (1920–1939). Cliometrica (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11698-023-00275-y

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11698-023-00275-y

Keywords

JEL Classification

Navigation