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The long shadow of history in China: regional governance reform and Chinese territorial inequality

Wang, Han, Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés ORCID: 0000-0002-8041-0856 and Lee, Neil ORCID: 0000-0002-4138-7163 (2021) The long shadow of history in China: regional governance reform and Chinese territorial inequality. Applied Geography, 134. ISSN 0143-6228

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2021.102525


Do external shocks affect local government quality and, consequently, long-term economic development? The collapse in 1911 of the Qing Dynasty in China was one of the greatest institutional shocks in world history, marking the end of more than 2,000 years of imperial rule. We exploit this shock to examine the impact of changes in historic local government quality on economic development today. By measuring variations in governance quality across 1,664 Chinese counties and examining their impact on long-term economic development, we show that historical differences in local governance quality are strong predictors of current geographical differences in economic development. This positive relationship is robust to a rich gamut of controls and checks. To further address causality issues, we instrument historical government quality with the location of military towns in the preceding Ming dynasty. The analysis shows that history has left a deep legacy on governance differences across China that determine, to a considerable extent, current Chinese regional inequalities.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2021 16:39
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2024 18:33

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