Friends from Afar: The Taiping Rebellion, Cultural Proximity and Primary Schooling in the Lower Yangzi, 1850-1949
50 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2015 Last revised: 24 Jan 2017
Date Written: October 21, 2016
This paper tests the hypothesis that the cultural distance between migrants and natives impedes the provision of public goods. The Taiping Rebellion was a shock that caused groups without a history of shared governance to be relocated to the same region. We use a unique historical dataset of surnames in the Lower Yangzi of China to construct a measure of the cultural distance between migrants and natives (MNCD). We find that a one-standard-deviation increase in the MNCD is associated with a decrease of over 0.19 public primary schools per 10,000 persons in the early 20th century. The results are robust to various checks and an instrumental analysis exploiting the pre-existing cultural distances between the native and the nearby population. Evidence from the timing of when the MNCD takes effect suggests that the primary mechanism runs from migrant-native cultural distance through quality of collective decision-making to modern primary education.
Keywords: Cultural Distance; Local Public Goods; Primary Education; Quasi-Exogenous Migration
JEL Classification: D72, J15, N45, N95, O15, Z1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation