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Climate Shocks, Dynastic Cycles, and Nomadic Conquests: Evidence from Historical China

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Author Info

  • Qiang Chen

    ()
    (School of Economics, Shandong University)

Abstract

Nomadic conquests have helped to shape world history, yet we know little about why they occurred. Using climate and dynastic data from historical China since 221 BCE, this study finds that the likelihood of nomadic conquest increased with less rainfall proxied by drought disasters, which drove pastoral nomads to attack agrarian Chinese for survival. Moreover, consistent with the dynastic cycle hypothesis, the likelihood of China being conquered increased when a Chinese dynasty was established earlier (and hence was weaker, on average) than a rival nomadic regime. These results survive a variety of robustness checks, including using the latitude of the Sino-nomadic border as an alternative dependent variable. The dynastic cycle effect also persists in an extension to world history. The effects of other climate shocks, such as snow, frost, and temperature anomaly, are not robust.

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File URL: http://econ.sdu.edu.cn/RePEc/shn/wpaper/nomadic_conquest.pdf
File Function: First version, 2012
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by School of Economics, Shandong University in its series SDU Working Papers with number 2012-01.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:shn:wpaper:2012-01

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Web page: http://econ.sdu.edu.cn
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Related research

Keywords: Nomadic conquests; climate shocks; dynastic cycles;

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  1. Carol H. Shiue & Wolfgang Keller, 2004. "Markets in China and Europe on the Eve of the Industrial Revolution," NBER Working Papers 10778, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Markus Brückner & Antonio Ciccone, 2009. "Rain and the Democratic Window of Opportunity," Working Papers 2009-38, FEDEA.
  3. Carol H. Shiue, 2002. "Transport Costs and the Geography of Arbitrage in Eighteenth-Century China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1406-1419, December.
  4. Antonio Ciccone, 2013. "Estimating the Effect of Transitory Economic Shocks on Civil Conflict," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, Università di Perugia, vol. 4(2).
  5. repec:sae:ecolab:v:16:y:2006:i:2:p:1-2 is not listed on IDEAS
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Cited by:
  1. Qiang Chen, 2013. "Climate Shocks, State Capacity, and Peasant Uprisings in North China during 25-1911 CE," SDU Working Papers, School of Economics, Shandong University 2013-01, School of Economics, Shandong University.

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