International Society for Quantitative History

QH Webinar Series

Lineage as Risk-Sharing Institution: How Confucianism Contributed to Population Growth in Pre-Industrial China

16:00 | Thursday, May 20, 2021

Zoom Webinar

English

Chicheng Ma

Chicheng Ma

Assistant Professor of Economics, HKU Business School

Gisling, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

We have a special treat for you from our very own Zhiwu Chen and Chicheng Ma!

Chicheng Ma presents his recent co-authored paper with Zhiwu Chen: “Lineage as Risk-Sharing Institution: How Confucianism Contributed to Population Growth in Pre-Industrial China”. They claim that besides technology and resource expansion, improvements in risk-mitigation pushed the Malthusian limits to population growth in pre-industrial societies. This hypothesis is tested in the context of China whose population grew by 11 times, while cultivated land and productivity did not increase commensurately, during 1000-1850 CE.

In traditional China, the Confucian clan (the lineage) acted as an internal risk-sharing institution, protecting members against the various Malthusian checks. For their empirical exercise, Chen and Ma employ data from 269 prefectures over the period 976-1850 CE, measure each region’s clan strength by the number of genealogy books, and instrument the distribution of clan strength using the geographic distance from the Zhu Xi’s Confucian academies (書院)―fountainheads of the Confucian clan culture.

Their analysis shows that prefectures with stronger clans (hence better risk mitigation) had substantially higher population density during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Both population loss from natural disasters and premature deaths of sons were significantly lower in prefectures with stronger clans, due to the clan-provided charity and risk-sharing services. In this Quantitative History Webinar, Chicheng Ma explains how the Confucian clan allowed China to sustain explosive population growth even before modern technologies came.

Live on Zoom on May 20, 2021
16:00 Hong Kong/Beijing/Singapore
09:00 London | 17:00 Tokyo | 18:00 Sydney

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Zoom Webinar

Chicheng Ma

English

The Quantitative History Webinar Series aims to provide researchers, teachers, and students with an online intellectual platform to keep up to date with the latest research in the field, promoting the dissemination of research findings and interdisciplinary use of quantitative methods in historical research. The Series, now in its third year, is co-organized by the International Society for Quantitative History, HKU Business School, and Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences. 量化歷史網上講座系列由香港大學陳志武和馬馳騁教授聯合發起,旨在介紹前沿量化歷史研究成果、促進同仁交流,推廣量化方法在歷史研究中的應用。本系列講座由國際量化歷史學會、香港大學經管學院和香港人文社會研究所全力支持和承辦。

Conveners: Professor Zhiwu Chen & Dr. Chicheng Ma (HKU Business School)

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