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Inequality of land tenure and revolutionary outcome: An economic analysis of China's land reform of 1946–1952

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  • Kung, James Kai-sing
  • Wu, Xiaogang
  • Wu, Yuxiao
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    Abstract

    A paradoxical feature of China's land reform of 1946–1952 is that it was conducted far more radically in the north, where land tenure relations were far less unequal, than in the south where inequality of land tenure was distinctly more acute. That landlords could only be identified in south China was attributable to the sharply more active land rental market there, and the “single-cut” policy of defining the landlords narrowly as a rentier class. We attribute the predominance of an active land rental market in south China to three socioeconomic characteristics: 1) a sharply higher inequality in land distribution, 2) an organization of agriculture whose efficiency required the “unsupervised initiatives” of family labor, and 3) a distinctly higher proportion of “absentee landlords”. Our hypothesis of land rentals being the only variable distinguishing the landlords from the rich peasants and only in south China is strongly supported by empirical evidence.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

    Volume (Year): 49 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 482-497

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:49:y:2012:i:4:p:482-497

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830

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    Keywords: Tenure inequality; Revolutionary outcome; Land reform; China;

    References

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    1. Kung, James Kai-sing & Li, Nan, 2011. "Commercialization as exogenous shocks: The effect of the soybean trade and migration in Manchurian villages, 1895–1934," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 568-589.
    2. Gottschang, Thomas R, 1987. "Economic Change, Disasters, and Migration: The Historical Case of Manchuria," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 461-90, April.
    3. Brandt, Loren, 1987. "Farm Household Behavior, Factor Markets, and the Distributive Consequences of Commercialization in Early Twentieth-Century China," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(03), pages 711-737, September.
    4. Kenneth L. Sokoloff & Stanley L. Engerman, 2000. "Institutions, Factor Endowments, and Paths of Development in the New World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 217-232, Summer.
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    Cited by:
    1. Steven Nafziger & Peter Lindert, 2011. "Russian Inequality on the Eve of Revolution," Department of Economics Working Papers 2013-13, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Sep 2013.

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