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Collectivization and China's Agricultural Crisis in 1959-1961

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  • Lin, Justin Yifu

Abstract

The agricultural crisis in China in 1959-61, after the initial success of the collectivization movement, resulted in 30 million extra deaths. In this paper, a game theory hypothesis proposes the main cause of this catastrophe. I argue that, because of the difficulty in supervising agricultural work, the success of an agricultural collective depends on a self-enforcing contract, however, can be sustained only in a repeated game. In the fall of 1958, the right to withdraw from a collective was deprived. The nature of the collectivization was thus changed from a repeated game to a one-time game. As a result, the self-enforcing contract could not be sustained and agricultural productivity collapsed. Copyright 1990 by University of Chicago Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 98 (1990)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 1228-52

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:98:y:1990:i:6:p:1228-52

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Cited by:
  1. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2006. "Making Famine History," Working Papers 200610, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  2. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2004. "Introduction to Special Issue of Food and Foodways," Working Papers 200409, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  3. Charness, Gary & Yang, Chun-Lei, 2014. "Starting small toward voluntary formation of efficient large groups in public goods provision," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 119-132.
  4. Huang, Cheng & Phillips, Michael R. & Zhang, Yali & Zhang, Jingxuan & Shi, Qichang & Song, Zhiqiang & Ding, Zhijie & Pang, Shutao & Martorell, Reynaldo, 2013. "Malnutrition in early life and adult mental health: Evidence from a natural experiment," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 259-266.
  5. Xiaobing Wang & Jenifer Piesse & Nick Weaver, 2011. "Mind the gaps: a political economy of the multiple dimensions of China’s rural–urban divide," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 15211, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
  6. Xin Meng & Nancy Qian & Pierre Yared, 2010. "The Institutional Causes of China's Great Famine, 1959-61," NBER Working Papers 16361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ji, Yueqing & Yu, Xiaohua & Zhong, Funing, 2012. "Machinery investment decision and off-farm employment in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 71-80.
  8. Mu, Ren & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2008. "Gender difference in the long-term impact of famine:," IFPRI discussion papers 760, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  9. Scott Rozelle & Johan F.M. Swinnen, 2004. "Success and Failure of Reform: Insights from the Transition of Agriculture," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(2), pages 404-456, June.
  10. Gaudeul, A. & Crosetto, P. & Riener, G., 2014. "Fear of being left alone drives inefficient exit from partnerships. An experiment," Working Papers 2014-02, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
  11. Xin Meng & Nancy Qian, 2009. "The Long Term Consequences of Famine on Survivors: Evidence from a Unique Natural Experiment using China's Great Famine," NBER Working Papers 14917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Huang, Wei & Zhou, Yi, 2013. "Effects of education on cognition at older ages: Evidence from China's Great Famine," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 54-62.
  13. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Hongbin Li & Junsen Zhang, 2010. "Long-Term Effects of Early-Life Development: Evidence from the 1959 to 1961 China Famine," NBER Chapters, in: The Economic Consequences of Demographic Change in East Asia, NBER-EASE Volume 19, pages 321-345 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Kwan, Y. & Chow, G., 1995. "Estimating economic effects of the great leap forward and the cultural revolution in China," Discussion Paper 1995-105, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

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