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The merit of misfortune: Taiping Rebellion and the rise of indirect taxation in modern China, 1850s-1900s

Deng, Hanzhi ORCID: 0000-0002-1221-5311 (2021) The merit of misfortune: Taiping Rebellion and the rise of indirect taxation in modern China, 1850s-1900s. Economic History Working Papers (320). London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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This article revisits the role of war in state development but goes beyond the scope of Western European nation states. It focuses on the relationship between political disorder and indirect taxation with micro-level evidence in late imperial China. With cross-sectional data for 266 prefectures this article employs quantitative methods to test the positive link between the warfare during the Taiping Rebellion (the greatest threat for the Qing reign) and the rapid rise and pervasive persistence of autonomous self-serving indirect taxation (lijin) institutions. The withering central fiscal role with the growing local fiscal-military needs accounted for this change. This article draws more economic and political implications by linking local fiscal autonomy to the Late Qing industrialization and the development of representative politics. The results demonstrate that the warfare by the Taiping Rebellion provided an unexpected opportunity for China’s fiscal modernization in a bottom-up way and that the impact was long-lasting

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
JEL classification: H - Public Economics > H2 - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue > H25 - Business Taxes and Subsidies
N - Economic History > N4 - Government, War, Law, and Regulation > N45 - Asia including Middle East
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O14 - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2021 08:45
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 23:53

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