Endogenous Evolution of Patriarchal Clan System in Ancient China

33 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2010

See all articles by Feng Frederic Deng

Feng Frederic Deng

Chongqing Technology and Business University

Date Written: November 5, 2009


This paper studies the endogenous evolution of patriarchal clan system in ancient China. The clan system was abolished in the Qin Dynasty, but it reemerged among high-standing families in the Han Dynasty and spread to common people after the Tang Dynasty. I address two questions: first, why did the clan system survive the destruction in Qin Dynasty? Second, why did its evolution correspond to how government officials were selected? It is argued that the hierarchical preference structure embedded in the clan system helped to increase trust and cooperation among people. It helped people to take collective action by themselves and also opened a back door to influence government decisions. In this sense, the clan system probably also helped to prolong the political institutions for two thousand years.

Keywords: Preference Falsification, Hierarchical Preferences, Clan, Trust, China

JEL Classification: D71, H41, P40

Suggested Citation

Deng, Feng Frederic, Endogenous Evolution of Patriarchal Clan System in Ancient China (November 5, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1589350 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1589350

Feng Frederic Deng (Contact Author)

Chongqing Technology and Business University ( email )

Chongqing, Nan'an 400067

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