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Decollectivization, Collective Legacy, and Uneven Agricultural Development in China

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  • Xu, Zhun

Abstract

China has seen persistent regional inequality in agricultural productivity since it dismantled its rural collectives in the early 1980s. This paper evaluates the effects of collective legacies on the agricultural performance after decollectivization. We construct a Collective Legacy Index (CLI) based on the achievements in the areas of rural infrastructure, education, and health under collectives. Using a district-level panel dataset, we find that the CLI has long-term positive effects on agricultural development after decollectivization. That is, districts that already performed well under socialism could still succeed under a different institution because they had superior infrastructure and human capital. At the same time, districts with less successful experience under socialism are less likely to catch up even after dismantling the collective institutions. The results with an instrumental variable (the pace of decollectivization) further reinforce this conclusion. We therefore argue that different collective legacies contribute to the uneven development in rural China. To tackle its problems of regional inequality, China needs to appreciate the role of its collective legacies in development.

Suggested Citation

  • Xu, Zhun, 2017. "Decollectivization, Collective Legacy, and Uneven Agricultural Development in China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 290-299.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:290-299
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2017.04.037
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