Friends from afar: The Taiping Rebellion, cultural proximity and primary schooling in the Lower Yangzi, 1850–1949

Yu Hao, Melanie Meng Xue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper tests the hypothesis that the cultural distance between migrants and natives impedes the provision of public goods. The Taiping Rebellion was a shock that caused groups without a history of shared governance to be relocated to the same region. We use a unique historical dataset of surnames in the Lower Yangzi of China to construct a measure of the cultural distance between migrants and natives (MNCD). We find that a one-standard-deviation increase in the MNCD is associated with a decrease of over 0.19 public primary schools per 10,000 persons in the early twentieth century. The results survive various robustness checks and an instrumental variable analysis that exploits the pre-existing cultural distances between the native and the nearby population. Evidence from the timing of when the MNCD takes effect suggests that the primary mechanism runs from migrant-native cultural distance through quality of collective decision-making to modern primary education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-69
Number of pages26
JournalExplorations in Economic History
Volume63
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • Cultural distance
  • Local public goods
  • Primary education
  • Quasi-exogenous migration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics

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