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Born with The Right Surname: Lineage Networks and Political and Economic Opportunities in Rural China

Rural China provides a useful case for investigating how traditional lineage networks affect people’s political and economic opportunities in the new industrial economy. Since the 1950s, China’s restrictive migration policy has frozen the size of lineages; and the Commune system has arbitrarily grouped multiple lineages into one administrative village. Household income was highly equalized within villages until 1979, when China began reforms and lineage networks started to shape different outcomes between members of different lineages within villages. Using the China Household Income Project Survey (2002) data and a village fixed-effects model, I find that, relative to the same-village fellows who are from smaller lineages, the husbands and wives of the largest local lineage are more likely to become the village administrators, and young men of the largest local lineage are more likely to have local non-agricultural jobs and higher wages. The paper also finds that the economic advantages of belonging to the largest local lineage diminishes as people age and eventually can be offset by the returns to education.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Louisiana State University in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2011-15.

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Handle: RePEc:lsu:lsuwpp:2011-15
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