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Reading Comprehension: Inference Questions

If Chayanov's consumption-labor-balance principle is taken to be true, which of the following could be inferred?



According to Chayanov, Russian peasants were not driven by utility, or making money, but by the wish to work less. Therefore, they would only try to increase their harvest if the number of consumers increased. Since we know that they did not endorse new technologies, we may conclude that the number of consumers could have remained constant or declined.



Our Initial Reading tells us that Russian peasants did not endorse, i.e. use, new European agricultural methods and technologies. We must conclude, in light of their rejection of those methods, that the European methods would have increased the amount of time they had to work, and thus decreased their leisure time.



This answer choice suggests that the new European technologies were not effective. However, the passage tells us that central to Chayanov's theory was the idea that Russian peasants did not seek to maximize their profits (economic utility) by using new technologies as would be expected by neoclassical economics. This idea relies on the fact that the technologies would have been effective for Russian peasants in producing more than they were currently producing (and therefore make profits as well as meet their basic needs).



This answer choice goes beyond the scope of the passage. Although it is true that one behavior of Russian peasants was directly influenced by the actions of their government, we have no information to conclude that their entire value system resulted from their government's behavior.



The second paragraph does state that the peasants believed that any extra income would be taxed by the government or taken by their lords, but does not specify that the government accorded the taxes directly to their lords. In any case, inferring that this belief by the peasants would indeed become a reality just by assuming the truth of the consumption-labor-balance principle is a long stretch.

The new European methods would not have allowed Russian peasants to meet their basic needs.
The number of consumers relative to the number of workers in 19th century Russian peasant households had increased over the years. 
Traditional Russian agricultural techniques required less investment of time than did the use of new European technologies.
According to the government-issued tax system, any extra income beyond satisfying a family's basic needs would be taken by the peasants' lords. 
The Russian peasant value system was a direct result of the behavior of the Russian government.