China Rural Reconstruction Dataset – Siqing (CRRD-SQ)

The China Rural Reconstruction Dataset – Siqing (CRRD-SQ) project (formerly CSSCD) studies the revolutionary transformation of Chinese society over the first half of the twentieth century by analyzing social class registration forms (阶级成份登记表) compiled on the eve of the Cultural Revolution in 1966. These forms represent one of the most systematic and detailed sources available on social and economic change in rural China from before land reform in the 1940s up to the eve of the Cultural Revolution in 1966. The CRRD-SQ currently contains data from over 25,000 of these household registration forms in four provinces.

Co-Investigators/Collaborators

  • Noellert, Matthew
  • Li, Xiangning
  • Xing, Long. Professor and Director, Shanxi University Research Center for Chinese Social History (RCCSH)
  • Hu, Yingze. Professor and Vice-director, Shanxi University Research Center for Chinese Social History
  • Wang, Yuesheng. Researcher, Chinese Academy of Social Science Institute of Population and Labor Economics

Background

In 1963-66 the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee decided as part of the Four Cleanups (siqing 四清) (politics, economy, organization, and ideology) campaign to re-evaluate all class relations and establish a new social class file for every household. This was to be the most systematic re-classification of households carried out since the land reform two decades earlier. The process started in Hebei and Shanxi provinces, where it was carried out most thoroughly, and only began to be implemented in other parts of China before it was overshadowed by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution after 1966.

The product of this re-classification was a social class registration form, 阶级成份登记表, recording 2-3 pages of systematic information for every individual household, including their property holdings and occupations from before communist land reform ca.1946 to the time of recording ca.1966, the household head’s social relations, a three-generation family history, and social, demographic, and political details on every household member over 15 sui. The CRRD-SQ data contain the full Chinese text transcriptions of these household forms, together with coded numerical data, in machine-readable format.

CRRD-SQ Data Series

The Four Cleanups household registration forms that comprise the source data of the CRRD-SQ series appear to have been recorded for most households in Hebei and Shanxi provinces (a combined potential total of roughly 12 million households in 1964), and for particular localities in other provinces, between 1965 and 1971.

The CRRD-SQ series currently contains complete transcriptions of over 25,000 household registration forms from four provinces. Of the already coded data, 7,800 households come from the archival collection of the Research Center for Chinese Social History (RCCSH) at Shanxi University, and are managed by the RCCSH. Another 3,100+ households were originally collected by Prof. Wang Yuesheng, who then generously donated them to the Lee-Campbell Research Group in 2016. An additional 1,600+ households were acquired from the Steven W. Mosher collection of the Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University in 2017. The remaining 12,300+ coded households were collected by the Lee-Campbell Research Group and are held in the Tsung-Dao Lee Library at Shanghai Jiaotong University and local county archives. Below is a summary of the current coverage  of the CRRD-SQ series:

Province County units Brigades Production teams Total Households
Shanxi 8 74 349 16,074
Hebei 9 39 215 7,182
Inner Mongolia 1 2 2 105
Guangdong 1 2 41 1,689
Total 19 117 607 25,050

On-Line User Guide

Xing, Long, Matthew Noellert, Li Xiangning, Hao Xiaowen, and James Z. Lee. “The CSSCD User Guide: An Introduction to the China Siqing 四清 (Four Cleanups) Social Class Dataset.” (unpublished)

Project History

The China Rural Reconstruction Dataset – Siqing project was initiated by Xing Long, who as Director of the Shanxi University Research Center for Chinese Social History had collected household social class registration forms from dozens of villages throughout Shanxi Province, and in 2013 recruited James Z. Lee and in turn the Lee-Campbell Research Group to assist with the transcription and analysis of these data.  Matthew Noellert, a 2014 HKUST PhD in History and Anthropology, joined the Center in September 2014 as a Postdoctoral Fellow under the joint supervision of Xing Long, Hu Yingze, the Vice Director of the Center, and James Z. Lee, funded by grants from the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation and from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, Matthew Noellert organized 15 graduate students who entered and completed preliminary analyses of over 3,000 households over the course of three semester-long RCCSH graduate seminars taught by James Z. Lee, Cameron Campbell, and Matthew Noellert. These courses provided a unique training experience by integrating data entry with learning about quantitative history methods and data analysis. By the end of the first semester, each student had completed entering a part of the data and carried out basic analysis and write-up of the data they entered, culminating in a final project, as listed in the CSSCD User Guide. In the second semester they continued coding and training in data analysis using the statistical software package, Stata.

RCSSH students in Fall 2015 coded another 3,744 households as part of an advanced undergraduate / beginning graduate research project under the direction of RCCSH Vice-Director, Yingze Hu, and Matthew Noellert. Similar to the graduate student seminars mentioned above, 18 senior undergraduates and 8 new first-year graduates attended a weekly workshop integrating data entry with basic data analysis training. Two of the more experienced graduate students, Guo Xingang and Zhang Aiming, also helped train students and organize data coding. A select number of these graduate students completed coding the remainder of the RCCSH data.

In Spring 2016, James Z. Lee recruited Wang Yuesheng, Chinese Academy of Social Science Research Fellow Emeritus in Population Studies, who deposited 3,000 household forms from southern Hebei with the Lee-Campbell Research Group.

In Summer and Fall 2016, Matthew Noellert and Li Xiangning independently collected another 12,000 household forms from northern Shanxi, Hebei, and Inner Mongolia.

In Fall 2017, Cameron Campbell and Matthew Noellert identified and began collecting 1,689 household forms from southern Guangdong province held in the Steven W. Mosher collection of the Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University.

Project Funding

James Z. Lee PI (Co-I Matthew Noellert, Yingze Hu, Cameron Campbell). Fanshen Revisited: New Perspectives on Land Reform and Rural Collectivization in North China, 1945-1965. Hong Kong Research Grants Council Project Number 16602315; 2015-2018.

Cameron Campbell PI (Co-I James Z. Lee, Matthew Noellert). Between the Old and the New: Marriage in Rural China During the Middle of the 20th Century. Hong Kong Research Grants Council Project Number 16600017; 2017-2020.

Research Output

For a summary of our research output from the CRRD-SQ, please see Part Three of our on-line course Understanding China, 1700-2000: A Data Analytic Approach – Who Gets Wealth as well as the books, articles, and presentations below.

Publications

Xing, Long, Cameron Campbell, Xiangning Li, Matthew Noellert, James Lee. 2020. Education, Class and Assortative Marriage in Rural Shanxi, China in the Mid-Twentieth Century. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility. 66 (April): 100458. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0276562419302367

Books and Articles Under Preparation

Li, Xiangning, Matthew Noellert, Cameron Campbell and James Z. Lee. “Collectivization, Occupational Structure, and Social Mobility in Mid-20th North China: Evidence from Shanxi Province”

Noellert, Matthew, Li Xiangning. “Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide in Socialist China, 1949-1965.”

Noellert, Matthew, Xing Long, Hu Yingze, and James Z. Lee. “Equality and Growth: Changes in the Composition and Distribution of Wealth in Rural China, 1946-1966.”

Academic Presentations

“Collectivization, Urbanization, and Occupational Mobility in Inland North China in the Mid-20th Century.” Social Science History Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, November 21-24, 2019.

“Structural Change and Occupational Mobility in Mid-20th North China: Evidence from Shanxi Province.” American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, New York, NY, August 10-13, 2019.

“Beyond the Household, the Village, and the Countryside: Social Relations and Boundaries in Revolutionary China, 1946-1966.” Social Science History Association Annual Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, November 8-11, 2018.

“Capitalism in Collectivized China: An Analysis of Household Incomes in the Mid-1960s.” At the international meeting, “History from Shanxi” (Chinese), Shanxi University, Taiyuan, China, September 21-23, 2018.

“Education, Class and Marriage in Rural Shanxi, China in the Mid-20th Century.” At the session, “Assortative Mating and Legislative Effects on Marriage Patterns,” Social Science History Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, November 2-5, 2017.

“Revolution, Collectivization and Occupational Mobility in North China in the Mid-Twentieth Century:
Evidence from Shanxi Province.” At the session, “The Other Road to Modernity: Comparative Perspectives on the Socialist Transformation of Agriculture in Eastern Europe and China,” Social Science History Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, November 2-5, 2017.

“Capitalism and Collectivism in the Chinese Countryside: A Study of 1960s Microdata.” At the session, “The Other Road to Modernity: Comparative Perspectives on the Socialist Transformation of Agriculture in Eastern Europe and China,” Social Science History Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, November 2-5, 2017.

“Equality and Growth: Changes in the Composition and Distribution of Wealth in Rural China, 1946-1966.” At the 2nd Research Forum on Global and Transnational History (in Chinese, “第二届全球史与跨国史研究论坛”), Shandong University, Jinan, China, January 7-9, 2017.

“Equality and Growth: Changes in the Composition and Distribution of Wealth in Rural China, 1946-1966.” At the session, “Material Antecedents of War and Revolution,” Social Science History Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, November 17-20, 2016.

“Equality and Growth: Changes in the Composition and Distribution of Wealth in Rural China, 1946-1966.” At the international meeting, “Rural Collectivization in China and Eastern Europe: Equality and Growth,” Shanxi University, Taiyuan, China, 5-6 August 2016.

“Education, Class and Marriage in Rural Shanxi, China in the Mid-20th Century.” At the session “Marriage and Family Building in Historical East Asia,” Population Association of Japan Annual Meeting, Reitaku University, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, June 11-13, 2016.

“Assortative Mating by Social Class and Education in Rural China in the Mid-20th Century.” At the session “Assortative Mating,” International Sociological Association Research Council on Social Stratification (RC-28) meetings, Singapore, May 26-28, 2016.

“Inequality within Equality: A Preliminary Analysis of the Distribution of Wealth in Collectivization-era Rural Shanxi, 1946-1966” (in Chinese, “平等中的不平等:集体化时代山西省农村财富分配初探 1946-1966”). At the meeting, “Data, Perspectives, Methods: Multi-disciplinary Dialogue and Reflections in Contemporary Chinese History Research” (in Chinese, “资料·视野·方法:中国当代史研究中的多学科对话与思考”), Shanxi University, Taiyuan, China, November 13-16, 2015.

“Marriage between equals: Assortative mating in revolutionary rural China, 1945-1965,” at the session “Demographic differentials by wealth and status,” International Economic History Congress, Kyoto, Japan, August 3-7, 2015.

Data Access

The RCCSH subset of the CRRD-SQ is not available for public data release.  While the remaining data are partially available on a case by case basis, preference will be given for collaborative research proposals.  Interested parties should write directly to Matthew Noellert, copying James Z. Lee and Cameron Campbell.