Do Kinship Networks Strengthen Private Property Rights? Evidence from Rural China
Duke University - School of Law; Yale University
Yale University - Department of Economics
June 5, 2013
American Law and Economics Association Annual Conference, 2013
This paper finds that the existence of strong kinship networks tends to enhance property rights in rural China by protecting villagers against unwanted government land takings. It then distinguishes kinship networks from other kinds of social networks by showing that their deterrence effect against coercive takings is far more significant and resilient under conditions of prevalent rural-urban migration than deterrence by neighborhood cooperatives and religious groups. Finally, the paper attempts to identify and differentiate between various possible mechanisms behind these effects: It argues that kinship networks protect property rights mainly through enabling repeated social interaction between members, which facilitates collective action against coercive takings. Kinship networks are more effective than neighborhood cooperatives or religious groups at sustaining repeated social interaction over long distances and, therefore, are less affected by rural-urban migration. Altruism between kinsmen, however, does not emerge from the data as a major factor.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40
Keywords: Property rights, land takings, kinship, social networks
JEL Classification: D70, K11, P26, P32working papers series
Date posted: August 22, 2013 ; Last revised: September 22, 2013
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