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

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  • Qiang Chen

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Qiang Chen, 2015. "Climate shocks, dynastic cycles and nomadic conquests: evidence from historical China," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(2), pages 185-204.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:67:y:2015:i:2:p:185-204.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/oep/gpu032
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    Cited by:

    1. Fu, Qiang & Lu, Jingfeng & Wang, Zhewei, 2014. "“Reverse” nested lottery contests," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, pages 128-140.
    2. Chenhang Zeng, 2013. "Optimal Advance Selling Strategy under Price Commitment," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, pages 233-258.
    3. Qiang Chen, 2015. "Climate Shocks, State Capacity and Peasant Uprisings in North China during 25–1911 ce," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, pages 295-318.
    4. Ko, Chiu Yu & Koyama, Mark & Sng, Tuan-Hwee, 2014. "Unified China and Divided Europe," CEI Working Paper Series 2014-7, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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