Errata from Fate and Fortune

Our book Fate and Fortune in Rural China: Social Organization and Population Behavior in Liaoning 1774-1873 appeared nearly twenty years ago. For some time, we have meant to collect and put in one place the errata that have been discovered over the years. There aren’t that many, thankfully, but it’s nice to list them all in one place. There are definitely more than are listed here, but so far, I haven’t been able to find them all in my notes. I’ll keep looking, and adding corrections as I find them. If you spot any typos in Fate and Fortune, let me know!

Page 6

In footnote 6, ‘cannabalized’ should be ‘cannibalized’. Reported by Graham Murray Campbell, April 1997.

Page 175

The title of Table 8.10 should be “Transitions in Banner occupation and organizational status for adult males, 1774-1873.” Reported by Xiangyun Wang, January 2014.

Page 263

The following, referred to in footnote 44, is missing from the references:

Pitkänen, Kari J. and James H. Mielke. 1993. “Age and sex differentials in mortality during two nineteenth century population crises.” European Journal of Population. 9:1-32.

Reported by Wang Xiangyun, February 2014.

Social Mobility and Demographic Behaviour: A Long-Term Perspective

The complete collection of papers from the December 2008 IUSSP Scientific Panel on Historical Demography seminar “Social Mobility and Demographic Behaviour: A Long-term Perspective” that Martin Dribe, Jan Van Bavel, and I organized at the UCLA California Center for Population Research (CCPR) is now available as a special collection at Demographic Research:  The meeting received generous support not only from the IUSSP, but also from a number of UCLA units, including CCPR the International Institute, the Dean of Social Sciences, and the Department of Sociology.  Participating scholars came from Asia, Europe, and the Americas, and represented a variety of disciplines, including sociology, economics, and history.

The papers had already appeared individually as they completed the review and production process, and with the addition of our introduction, the collection is now complete.

These papers all address the interaction of demographic behavior with social mobility.  Most of them apply advanced quantitative techniques to longitudinal historical population databases such as the Historical Sample of the Netherlands, but some used contemporary data.  Specific of the many questions that the papers addressed included changes over time in the influence of family size of origin on socioeconomic attainment, and interactions between social mobility and  assortative mating.  A detailed introduction to the papers is available here:

New paper on descent groups and inequality in Chinese society

James Lee and I just published a paper in the newly retitled Chinese Sociological Review examining the contribution of descent group membership to inequality between individuals in rural northeast China, and measuring continuity in the statuses of descent groups from the Qing to the present. We used linked contemporary retrospective survey data linked to historical household registers. We found that even after differences between households and villages were accounted for, there were pronounced differences in socioeconomic outcomes for individuals according to descent group. For marriage and socioeconomic attainment, differences in outcomes between descent groups in the same village were as large or larger than differences between villages.

Here is the reference:

Campbell, Cameron and James Z. Lee. 2011. “Kinship and the Long-Term Persistence of Inequality in Liaoning, China, 1749-2005.” Chinese Sociological Review. 44(1):71-104.

And here is a LINK. You’ll probably need an institutional subscription to get hold of the actual paper.

Here I will try to provide some intuition about why the work is novel and interesting, in the hope of persuading you to find the actual paper, read it, and cite it.

We all know from decades of qualitative research by anthropologists and historians that descent groups are an important unit of social organization in Chinese society. Results from fieldwork and other qualitative research suggests that descent group membership should have been an important source of inequality between individuals in Chinese society, in that individual outcomes were influenced heavily not only by the household into which they were born, but by the descent group into which they were born. In other words, otherwise identical individuals might have very different outcomes according to whether they were born into a high-status descent group or a low-status one. This is a point that is either explicit or implicit in a variety of works, for example by historians such as Robert Hymes, and anthropologists such as Maurice Freedman.

Oddly, quantitative studies of stratification and inequality in Chinese society don’t incorporate these qualitative insights into the importance of large kin groups in Chinese society. Quantitative studies of the determinants of individual life outcomes in China tend to follow models developed in the course of studying Western societies. Such models tend to emphasize the roles of macro-level differences in socioeconomic outcomes according to membership in categories defined by race, ethnicity, gender, nativity, and so forth, or micro-level differences according to individual and parental characteristics. While recent work by Don Treiman, Wang Feng, Wu Xiaogang, Xie Yu and others recognizes the role played by hukou status, danwei affiliation, and other distinctive features of contemporary Chinese society, there really isn’t much direct consideration of the role of larger kin groups.

Accordingly, our paper is a first stab at accounting for the role of descent groups in structuring inequality between individuals. We have retrospective survey data from selected villages in rural Liaoning that we have linked to household register data in the China Multigenerational Panel Dataset-Liaoning (CMGPD-LN). One of the key features of the CMGPD-LN is that it allows for reconstruction of descent groups across multiple generations through automated linking. Perhaps more importantly, the CMGPD-LN is now available for download by anyone who would like to extend upon our work.

For the analysis, we estimate multi-level random-effects models to measure the relative importance of differences between villages, descent groups, and households in accounting for differences in the socioeconomic and demographic outcomes of individuals. We also rank descent groups in the Qing and the last half of the twentieth century according to their success in attaining local official positions, and then calculate correlations in those ranks as indices of the continuity of status. The long and short of it is that there are pronounced differences between descent groups, and substantial continuity in the relative statuses of descent groups.

The question, of course, is why? We are still pondering this. So far our explanations for the importance of descent groups and the continuity of their statuses has revolved around the idea that especially before public education became universal, descent groups were a primary locus within individuals learned norms, behaviors, values, orientations and so forth. In other words, intangibles such as knowledge and skills circulated within descent groups and were passed down from one generation to the other. We further speculate that the continuity we observed from the Qing to the late twentieth century reflected the resilience of these intangibles to efforts at social leveling that focused on the redistribution of material goods.