China's Economic Growth and Social Development: An Institutional Perspective
Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021 12:15 PM - 2:15 PM (EST)
- Chair: Scott Rozelle, Stanford University
A Theory of Power Structure and Institutional Compatibility: China versus Europe Revisited
AbstractDespite a large consensus among economists on the strong interdependence and synergy between pro-development institutions, how should one understand why Imperial China, with weaker rule of law and property rights, gave the commoners more opportunities to access elite status than Premodern Europe, for example via the civil service exam and the absence of hereditary titles? Supported by rich historical narratives, we show that these institutional differences reflect more general differences in the power structure of society: (1) the Ruler enjoyed weaker absolute power in Europe; (2) the People were more on par with the Elites in China in terms of power and rights. Based on these narratives, we build a game-theoretical model and analyze how the power structure can shape the stability of an autocratic rule. If we read greater absolute power of the Ruler as conditioning more of the power and rights of the ruled on the Ruler's will, we show that a more symmetric Elite--People relationship can stabilize autocratic rule. If absolute power is stronger, this stabilizing effect will be stronger, and the Ruler's incentive to promote such symmetry will be greater. The theory explains the power structure differences between Imperial China and Premodern Europe, as well as specific institutions such as the bureaucracy in China and the role of cities in Europe. It is also consistent with the observation that autocratic rule was more stable in Imperial China than in Premodern Europe.
Stratified Spatial Mobility, Local Elites and Economic Growth in China
AbstractResearch on patterns of stratified spatial mobility in the Chinese bureaucracy reveals a huge divide between those top officials who move in and out of an administrative jurisdiction every few years, and those local officials who stay there for a long period of time, with different implications for their roles in local governance. In this study, we exploit this idea and contrast the role of top officials as the “movers” and that of local officials as the “stayers” in local economic development. We examine the social structure emerging from the flow of elites within the administrative jurisdiction and its impact on economic growth. We propose that local elites play a more significant role in economic development, relative to those top officials on the move. This paper reports the empirical findings in this line of inquiry.
The Rise of Communism in China
AbstractAs the world’s second largest economy, China continues to be ruled by a communist regime. Historically, how the Chinese Communist Party rose to power against the adversities of a distinctly stronger political rival (the Nationalist Government) and Japanese military aggression has not been systematically examined. Using a spatial RD approach applied over a boundary distinguished by whether a county was occupied by the Japanese Army in 1940, we find that the Japanese-occupied counties experienced a significant rise in the number of communist cadres and an expansion of guerrilla bases that is 5.4% higher and 10.3% larger, respectively. To account for the underlying channels, we use the number of civilians killed and sex crimes to respectively proxy for “fight for survival” and “national humiliation” – sentiments that collectively define nationalism. We then provide suggestive evidence to show that counties where communism grew the fastest back then exhibit stronger signs of nationalism today.
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Toronto
- O5 - Economywide Country Studies
- P2 - Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies