Reaping What You Sow: Historical Rice Farming and Contemporary Cooperative Behavior in China
60 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2021
Date Written: September 10, 2021
This paper investigates how China’s long tradition of wetland rice farming affects contemporary cooperative behavior. We exploit a discontinuity in rice farming generated by a natural geographic boundary in China and find a significant positive impact on cooperative behavior today. In particular, an increase in the percentage of farmland devoted to rice farming significantly increases the frequency of mutual help in terms of borrowing and lending money, caring for each other's family members, and helping each other with job seeking and house construction. We identify cultural transmission, labor exchange and irrigation networks as the likely driving forces behind this phenomenon.
Keywords: rice farming, cooperative behavior, culture, irrigation, labor exchange, China
JEL Classification: D90, N55, Z10
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