Famine and Young Leader Boom—China’s 1962-63 Phenomenon

40 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2021

See all articles by Jinfan Zhang

Jinfan Zhang

Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen)

Pengcheng Liu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: March 10, 2021

Abstract

This paper analyzes the background information of business and political leaders born around China’s 1959-1961 famine, including the CEOs and board chairman of China’s public firms and the mayors and CPC secretaries of cities. We find that the likelihood of becoming business (political) leaders for people born in 1962 and 1963 jumps to 2-3 times as high as those born before the famine. The upsurge gradually declines for the following birth cohorts. This phenomenon exists not only at the country level, but also across the provinces. In a difference-in-differences test, we find evidence indicating that the 1962-63 phenomenon is caused by the close to 40 percent birth loss during the 1959-1961 famine. Our findings not only shed light on the unexpected long-run social impact of the famine, but also lend support to the prevalence of meritocracy in both business and politics in China.

Keywords: Famine, Meritocracy, Entrepreneur, Politician

JEL Classification: G30, J10, H10

Suggested Citation

Zhang, Jinfan and Liu, Pengcheng, Famine and Young Leader Boom—China’s 1962-63 Phenomenon (March 10, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3828069 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3828069

Jinfan Zhang

Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen) ( email )

Shenzhen
China

Pengcheng Liu (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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