The Institutional Causes of China&Apos;S Great Famine, 1959-61

76 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2010 Last revised: 17 Mar 2021

See all articles by Xin Meng

Xin Meng

Australian National University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Nancy Qian

Yale University - Department of Economics

Pierre Yared

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2010

Abstract

This paper investigates the institutional causes of China's Great Famine. It presents two empirical findings: 1) in 1959, when the famine began, food production was almost three times more than population subsistence needs; and 2) regions with higher per capita food production that year suffered higher famine mortality rates, a surprising reversal of a typically negative correlation. A simple model based on historical institutional details shows that these patterns are consistent with the policy outcomes in a centrally planned economy in which the government is unable to easily collect and respond to new information in the presence of an aggregate shock to production.

Suggested Citation

Meng, Xin and Qian, Nancy and Yared, Pierre, The Institutional Causes of China&Apos;S Great Famine, 1959-61 (September 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16361, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1677823

Xin Meng (Contact Author)

Australian National University ( email )

Research School of Economics
College of Business and Economics
Canberra ACT 0200
Australia
+61 26249 3102 (Phone)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Nancy Qian

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

Pierre Yared

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )

3022 Broadway
Uris Hall
New York, NY 10027
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
42
Abstract Views
622
PlumX Metrics