Confucian Filial Piety, Economic Growth and Divergence among Civilizations

Social Science in China, Vol. XXXIII, No. 4, November 2012

23 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2013

See all articles by Jinbo Li

Jinbo Li

Guanghua School of Management, PKU

Huihua Nie

Renmin University of China - School of Economics

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

This paper employs an economic approach to analyze the influence of Confucian filial piety on economic growth in ancient China. In the highly imperfect credit market of the time, filial piety, as a unique mechanism for fulfilling intergenerational contracts, could to some extent solve problems of verifiability and commitment and thus effectively promote economic growth by increasing savings. However, the implementation and maintenance of filial piety were not spontaneous; it required external intervention by the rulers. Rulers faced a tradeoff when allocating resources between production and war. It was this tradeoff that determined the level of filial piety in society. A comparison between the civilizations of the Central Plains, nomadic Xiongnu society and ancient Rome verifies our proposition and thus explains in some degree the difference between Eastern and Western civilizations.

Keywords: Confucian filial piety, intergenerational exchange, economic growth, divergence among civilizations

JEL Classification: N45, N55, E21

Suggested Citation

Li, Jinbo and Nie, Huihua, Confucian Filial Piety, Economic Growth and Divergence among Civilizations (2012). Social Science in China, Vol. XXXIII, No. 4, November 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2196400

Jinbo Li

Guanghua School of Management, PKU ( email )

Peking University
Beijing, Beijing 100871
China

Huihua Nie (Contact Author)

Renmin University of China - School of Economics ( email )

59 Zhongguancun St., Haidian
School of Economics, RUC
Beijing, Beijing 100872
China

HOME PAGE: http://www.niehuihua.com

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