The Historical State, Local Collective Action, and Economic Development in Vietnam

45 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2017

See all articles by Melissa Dell

Melissa Dell

Harvard University - Department of Economics

Nathaniel Lane

Nathaniel Lane

Pablo Querubin

New York University (NYU) - Department of Politics

Date Written: March 2017

Abstract

This study examines how the historical state conditions long-run development, using Vietnam as a laboratory. Northern Vietnam (Dai Viet) was ruled by a strong centralized state in which the village was the fundamental administrative unit. Southern Vietnam was a peripheral tributary of the Khmer (Cambodian) Empire, which followed a patron-client model with weaker, more personalized power relations and no village intermediation. Using a regression discontinuity design across the Dai Viet-Khmer boundary, the study shows that areas historically under a strong state have higher living standards today and better economic outcomes over the past 150 years. Rich historical data document that in villages with a strong historical state, citizens have been better able to organize for public goods and redistribution through civil society and local government. This suggests that the strong historical state crowded in village-level collective action and that these norms persisted long after the original state disappeared.

Suggested Citation

Dell, Melissa and Lane, Nathaniel and Querubin, Pablo, The Historical State, Local Collective Action, and Economic Development in Vietnam (March 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23208. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2938752

Melissa Dell (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nathaniel Lane

Nathaniel Lane ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3
Australia

Pablo Querubin

New York University (NYU) - Department of Politics ( email )

New York, NY
United States

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