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High Corruption Income in Ming and Qing China

We develop an economic model that explains historical data on government corruption in Ming and Qing China. In our model, officials extensive powers result in corrupt income matching lands share in output. We estimate corrupt income to be between 14 to 22 times official income resulting in about 22% of agricultural output accruing to 0.4% of the population. The results suggest that eliminating corruption through salary reform was possible in early Ming but impossible by mid-Qing rule. Land reform may also be ineffective because officials could extract the same rents regardless of ownership. High officials incomes and the resulting inequality may have also created distortions and barriers to change that could have contributed to Chinas stagnation over the five centuries 1400-1900s.

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File URL: http://economics.missouri.edu/working-papers/2005/wp0503_ni_pham.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Missouri in its series Working Papers with number 0503.

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Length: 35 pgs.
Date of creation: 18 Feb 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Development Economics 2006
Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:0503
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Web page: http://economics.missouri.edu/

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  1. Pranab Bardhan, 1997. "Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1320-1346, September.
  2. Chand, Sheetal K. & Moene, Karl O., 1999. "Controlling Fiscal Corruption," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(7), pages 1129-1140, July.
  3. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1990. "The Allocation of Talent: Implicationsfor Growth," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 65, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  4. Andvig, J.C. & Ove Moene, K., 1988. "How Corruption May Corrupt," Memorandum 20/1988, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  5. Acemoglu, D. & Verdier, T., 1996. "Property Rights, Corruption and the Allocation of Talent: A General Equilibrium Approach," DELTA Working Papers 96-12, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  6. Lin, Justin Yifu, 1995. "The Needham Puzzle: Why the Industrial Revolution Did Not Originate in China," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 269-92, January.
  7. Dilip Mookherjee, 1997. "Wealth Effects, Incentives and Productivity," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 77, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  8. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  9. Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Barriers to Riches," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661306, June.
  10. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 2002. "Economic Backwardness in Political Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 3261, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Basu, Kaushik & Bhattacharya, Sudipto & Mishra, Ajit, 1992. "Notes on bribery and the control of corruption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 349-359, August.
  12. Baumol, William J, 1990. "Entrepreneurship: Productive, Unproductive, and Destructive," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 893-921, October.
  13. Cadot, Olivier, 1987. "Corruption as a gamble," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 223-244, July.
  14. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1988. "Income Distribution, Market Size, and Industrialization," NBER Working Papers 2709, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Ronald Max Hartwell, 1981. "Taxation in England during the Industrial Revolution," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 1(1), pages 129-153, Spring.
  16. Lui, Francis T., 1986. "A dynamic model of corruption deterrence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 215-236, November.
  17. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. International Monetary Fund, 1997. "Corruption and the Rate of Temptation; Do Low Wages in the Civil Service Cause Corruption?," IMF Working Papers 97/73, International Monetary Fund.
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