Millet, Rice, and Isolation: Origins and Persistence of the World's Most Enduring Mega-State
42 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2022 Last revised: 4 Jun 2023
Date Written: June 4, 2020
We empirically test a theory of endogenous formation and persistence of mega-states, using China as an example. We constructed a novel dataset to explore the relationship between the diffusion of agriculture, migratory distance, and social complexity-cum-historical presence of Chinese states across 1-degree x 1-degree cells in eastern Asia. We find that cells that adopted agriculture earlier and were close to Erlitou -- the earliest political center in eastern Asia -- remained under Chinese control for longer and continue to be a part of China today. Conversely, early adopters located farther away had enough time to develop into independent states.
Keywords: States, Empires, State Formation, Agriculture, Isolation, Social Complexity, Persistence, Stickiness to China, Erlitou, East Asia
JEL Classification: F50, F59, H70, H79, N90, O10, R10, Z10, Z13
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