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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

Yu Hao

Peking University - School of Economics

Melanie Meng Xue

Department of Economics & Center for Economic History, Northwestern University

Date Written: October 21, 2016

Abstract

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

Hao, Yu and Xue, Melanie Meng, Friends from Afar: The Taiping Rebellion, Cultural Proximity and Primary Schooling in the Lower Yangzi, 1850-1949 (October 21, 2016). Explorations in Economic History, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2683300 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2683300

Yu Hao

Peking University - School of Economics ( email )

Beijing
China

Melanie Xue (Contact Author)

Department of Economics & Center for Economic History, Northwestern University ( email )

2211 Campus Drive
Office #3197
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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