Events & Seminars

SOSC Seminar
Amendment: The War Origin of Property Rights and State Capacity: The Lasting Impact of the Taiping Rebellion (Friday 24 Nov 2017)


The long-term impact and the underlying mechanisms of civil wars are understudied in the literature. We study the long-term impacts on population growth of the Taiping Rebellion (TPR, 1851-1864) in China, the deadliest civil war in history and a key turning point toward modernity in Chinese history. By analyzing a dataset of 266 prefectures from 1776 to 2000, we document that, compared to the control group, the TPR had caused a permanent population loss in the TPR prefectures, and the population level in the TPR regions (compared to the baseline year 1776) relative to other regions remain 43 percent lower even 120 years after the Rebellion. The results remain after we instrument TPR with a plausible instrument based on the war routing strategy of the TPR. We offer suggestive evidence that two important channels for the TPR effect are land property rights and strengthening of local fiscal capacity (i.e., local taxes known as Likin) for cross-regional transactions. The better-property-rights TPR regions were able to collect higher Likin during and long time after the end of the war; and the higher local state capacity built over the war has persisted to this century in terms of tax collection, the provision of public goods, and facilitating market-supporting institutions. We also offer a placebo test that another great Famine of large scope, the ENSO famine (1876-1880), did not result in permanent population effect perhaps because it did not affect land property rights. The TPR has thus affected long-term development through property rights and local state capacity built up during the war.



Lixin Colin Xu: Lead economist, Development Research Group, World Bank. Graduated from Peking University (BA, MA) in 1989, University of Chicago (Ph.D) in 1996. He has been working at World Bank since 1996.


His research covers a wide range of applied microeconomics and development topics. More than half of his papers are about Chinese economy. He has published more than 50 journal articles such as in American Economic Review, Journal of Financial Economics, Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Labor Economics Journal of Law and Economics, Journal of Development Economics, and Journal of Economic Growth. He has many papers being listed at syllabuses of top universities. His papers have also been selected into Edgar Reference Collection, and mentioned by The Economist, Marginal Revolution, NBER Monthly Digest. His papers have been cited about 7,000 times in Google Scholar. According to RePEc, he’s top 4% in the overall record, and top 1% in various measures of being a great coauthor in the (economics) world.

Prof. Lixin Colin Xu
Lead economist, Development Research Group, World Bank
November 24, 2017 (Friday)
11:00 am - 12:30 noon
Room 2405 (via lifts 17-18), Academic Building, HKUST