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The Persistent Effect of Famine on Present-Day China: Evidence from the Billionaires

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  • Pramod Kumar Sur
  • Masaru Sasaki

Abstract

More than half a century has passed since the Great Chinese Famine (1959-1961), and China has transformed from a poor, underdeveloped country to the world's leading emerging economy. Does the effect of the famine persist today? To explore this question, we combine historical data on province-level famine exposure with contemporary data on individual wealth. To better understand if the relationship is causal, we simultaneously account for the well-known historical evidence on the selection effect arising for those who survive the famine and those born during this period, as well as the issue of endogeneity on the exposure of a province to the famine. We find robust evidence showing that famine exposure has had a considerable negative effect on the contemporary wealth of individuals born during this period. Together, the evidence suggests that the famine had an adverse effect on wealth, and it is even present among the wealthiest cohort of individuals in present-day China.

Suggested Citation

  • Pramod Kumar Sur & Masaru Sasaki, 2021. "The Persistent Effect of Famine on Present-Day China: Evidence from the Billionaires," Papers 2104.00935, arXiv.org, revised Apr 2021.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:2104.00935
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • N35 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Asia including Middle East

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