【经管院每周系列讲座第279期】 Robin Hood on the Grand Canal: Economic Shock and Peasant Rebellions in Qing China, 1650-1911

2015-11-17

Title: Robin Hood on the Grand Canal: Economic Shock and Peasant Rebellions in Qing China, 1650-1911 Speaker: Shuo Chen, Fudan University Host: Pinghan Liang, Associate professor, RIEM Time: 14:30-16:00, Nov.20, Friday Venue: Yide H513, Liulin Campus Abstract: Social scientists have long pondered the effects of economic shocks on social conflicts. Despite the recent literature that has employed exogenous variation such as climate changes and global prices to identify the causality, the findings are still inconclusive. This paper uses the abandonment of China’s Grand Canal —perhaps the largest infrastructure project in pre-modern world— in 1826 as a natural experiment to study the link between economic shocks and social conflicts. Using a dataset covering 575 counties from 1650 to 1911, we find that negative economic shocks significantly generate social instability: in the period of post-abandonment, the annual incidence of rebellions is 126 % higher in counties bordering the canal than those that are not. Further empirical and historical evidence shows that the results are primarily driven by the decrease of opportunity costs of rebel rather than the decline of the state capacity.

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