Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Internal Conflict, Elite Action, and State Failure: Evidence from China, 1000-1911

Dincecco, Mark and Wang, Yuhua (2018): Internal Conflict, Elite Action, and State Failure: Evidence from China, 1000-1911.

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Abstract

This paper analyzes the long-run dynamics of internal conflict, elite action over privately- versus publicly-provided security, and state development outcomes in China. We construct new county-level data that span nearly one millennium. We find that, traditionally, elites turned away from clans and toward the imperial government for safety in times of internal conflict. After the new globalizing Western influence took hold in the mid-1800s, however, threatening the imperial government's viability, we find that elites turned back toward clans for protection, particularly during the Taiping Rebellion. Finally, we find a positive link between renewed clan activity and the eventual failure of the imperial Qing state. Our analysis provides a new perspective on the political origins of the Great Divergence, by which Europe took off economically, but China fell behind.

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