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Collectivization and China's Agricultural Crisis in 1959-1961


  • Lin, Justin Yifu


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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  • Lin, Justin Yifu, 1990. "Collectivization and China's Agricultural Crisis in 1959-1961," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1228-1252, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:98:y:1990:i:6:p:1228-52

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-795, December.
    2. Joskow, Paul L, 1988. "Asset Specificity and the Structure of Vertical Relationships: Empirical Evidence," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 95-117, Spring.
    3. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    4. Takayama,Akira, 1985. "Mathematical Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521314985, March.
    5. Sergiu Hart, 2006. "Shapley Value," Discussion Paper Series dp421, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
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