Seminar: "The War Origin of Property Rights and State Capacity: The Lasting Impact of the Taiping Rebellion." Dr Lixin Colin Wu, The World Bank, 21 March 2018

21 March 2018, 3pm-4:30pm.
Location: Room 656A, Level 6, Gilbert Scott, Main Building, University of Glasgow.
Organised by Adam Smith Business School.

Abstract: The long-term impact and the underlying mechanisms of civil wars are understudied in the literature. We study the long-term impacts on population growth of the Taiping Rebellion (TPR, 1851-1864) in China, the deadliest civil war in history and a key turning point toward modernity in Chinese history. By analyzing a dataset of 266 prefectures from 1776 to 2000, we document that, compared to the control group, the TPR had caused a permanent population loss in the TPR prefectures, and the population level in the TPR regions (compared to the baseline year 1776) relative to other regions remain 43 percent lower even ten dozen years after the Rebellion. The results remain after we instrument TPR with a plausible instrument based on the war routing strategy of the TPR. We offer suggestive evidence that two important channels for the TPR effect are land property rights and wartime internal taxes (known as Likin) for cross-regional transactions. We also find that the main channel for TPR effects on current state capacity is property rights, not wartime fiscal capacity. We further offer a placebo test that another great Famine of large scope, the ENSO famine (1876-1880), did not result in permanent population effect perhaps because it did not affect land property rights. The TPR thus has affected long-term development through property rights and state capacity built up during the war.


Speaker biography: Lixin Colin Xu is a Lead economist, Development Research Group, World Bank. Graduated from Peking University (BA, MA) in 1989, University of Chicago (Ph.D) in 1996. He has been working at World Bank since 1996.  His research covers a wide range of applied microeconomics and development topics. More than half of his papers are about Chinese economy. He has published more than 50 journal articles such as in American Economic Review, Review of Economics and Statistics, and many top field journals in finance, labor, development, growth, law and economics, organization, and comparative economic system. He has many papers being listed at syllabuses of top universities. His papers have also been selected into Edgar Reference Collection, and mentioned by The Economist, Marginal Revolution, NBER Monthly Digest. His work has been cited 7300 times by Google Scholar.


Seminar organised by Adam Smith Business School.

First published: 6 January 2018

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