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Climate shocks, dynastic cycles and nomadic conquests: evidence from historical China

Listed author(s):
  • Qiang Chen

Nomadic conquests have helped shape world history, yet we know little about why they occurred. Using a unique climate and dynastic data set from historical China dating from 221 BCE, this study finds that the likelihood of nomadic conquest increases 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 increases with the number of years earlier that a Chinese dynasty had been established (and hence was weaker, on average) relative to a rival nomadic regime. These results survive a variety of robustness checks.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/oep/gpu032
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 67 (2015)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 185-204

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:67:y:2015:i:2:p:185-204.
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  1. Nikolay Nenovsky & S. Statev, 2006. "Introduction," Post-Print halshs-00260898, HAL.
  2. Markus Brückner & Antonio Ciccone, 2011. "Rain and the Democratic Window of Opportunity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(3), pages 923-947, 05.
  3. Antonio Ciccone, 2013. "Estimating the Effect of Transitory Economic Shocks on Civil Conflict," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 4(2).
  4. Carol H. Shiue & Wolfgang Keller, 2007. "Markets in China and Europe on the Eve of the Industrial Revolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1189-1216, September.
  5. repec:sae:ecolab:v:16:y:2006:i:2:p:1-2 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Carol H. Shiue, 2002. "Transport Costs and the Geography of Arbitrage in Eighteenth-Century China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1406-1419, December.
  7. M. Ruth & K. Donaghy & P. Kirshen, 2006. "Introduction," Chapters,in: Regional Climate Change and Variability, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
  8. Christos Pitelis & Roger Sugden & James R. Wilson, 2006. "Introduction," Chapters,in: Clusters and Globalisation, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
  9. Anna Alberini & James R. Kahn, 2006. "Introduction," Chapters,in: Handbook on Contingent Valuation, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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