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The Literary Inquisition: The Persecution of Intellectuals and Human Capital Accumulation in China

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  • Koyama, Mark
  • Xue, Melanie Meng

Abstract

Imperial China used an empire-wide system of examinations to select civil servants. Using a semiparametric matching-based difference-in-differences estimator, we show that the persecution of scholar-officials led to a decline in the number of examinees at the provincial and prefectural level. To explore the long-run impact of literary inquisitions we employ a model to show that persecutions could reduce the provision of basic education and have a lasting effect on human capital accumulation. Using the 1982 census we find that literary inquisitions reduced literacy by between 2.25 and 4 percentage points at a prefectural level in the early 20th century. This corresponds to a 69% increase in the probability of an individual being illiterate. Prefectures affected by the literary inquisition had a higher proportion of workers in agriculture until the 1990s.

Suggested Citation

  • Koyama, Mark & Xue, Melanie Meng, 2015. "The Literary Inquisition: The Persecution of Intellectuals and Human Capital Accumulation in China," MPRA Paper 62103, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:62103
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    Cited by:

    1. Finley, Theresa & Koyama, Mark, 2016. "Plague, Politics, and Pogroms: The Black Death, Rule of Law, and the persecution of Jews in the Holy Roman Empire," MPRA Paper 72110, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    China; Human Capital; Institutions; Persecutions; Persistence;

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • N45 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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