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By Debin Ma, Long Denggao, Maarten Prak, Kenneth Pomeranz and Thomas Rawski

Abstract

Abstract: Using newly reconstructed data series of two millennia and half on warfare and durations of political unification and fragmentation, this article provides a new interpretation of the evolution of traditional Chinese political regime in the perspective of new institutional economics. Structured within a principal-agent model with three major actors: the emperor, the bureaucracy and the people, the article shows that while monopoly rule, long time-horizon and large size of empire could lead absolutist regime like traditional China to a path of low-taxation, political stability and extensive growth, fundamental incentive misalignment and information asymmetry problem embedded in its centralized and hierarchical political structure significantly weakened the regime ’ fiscal and financial capacity to support institutions and institutional change conducive to modern economic growth. Using comparable series of fiscal revenue, the paper makes a comparative case study of Imperial Qing (1644-1911) with early modern Western Europe

Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.186.2128
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