When State-Building Hinders Growth: The Legacy of China's Confucian Bureaucracy
Do countries with a long history of state-building fare better in the long-run? Recent work has shown that early state-building may lead to higher levels of present-day growth. By contrast, I use a natural experiment to show that the regions of China with over a thousand years of sustained exposure to state-building are significantly poorer today. The mechanism of persistence, I argue, was the introduction of a civil service exam based on knowledge of Confucian classics, which strengthened the social prestige of the civil service at the expense of local commerce. A thousand years later, the regions of China where the Confucian bureaucracy was first introduced have a more educated population and more Confucian temples --- but lower levels of wealth. The paper contributes to an important debate on the Great Divergence, highlighting how political institutions interact with culture to cause long-run patterns of growth.
Imperialism's Original Sin: The Missionary Roots of Nationalism in China (with Chen Ting)
What explains the emergence of nationalism? Existing theory emphasizes the role of war in weakening dynastic states and allowing for the emergence of nationalism. In this paper, by contrast, we trace the emergence of nationalism not to war but to missionary activity. We focus on China, an important case in the literature. We argue missionary activity at the end of the 19th century threatened the political power of traditional elites, who responded by spreading nationalist ideology as a way to mobilize violent attacks against missionaries. To test our hypothesis, we gather new data on secretive networks of nationalist revolutionaries, on missionary activity, and on anti-missionary violence. We find a strong relationship between missionary activity and the creation of nationalist cells in China. Qualitative case studies drawing on archival evidence lend support to a causal interpretation. These findings suggest the relationship between imperialism and the rise of nationalism may be driven by missionaries, not war.
Nationalism and Accountability: Support for Repression in China and Japan (with Trevor Incerti, Frances Rosenbluth, Seiki Tanaka, and Jiahua Yue)
How does domestic backlash operate in democratic and autocratic regimes? The lay public in both kinds of regimes generally disapprove of governmental intervention in matters loaded with nationalist meaning. We provide evidence in this paper, however, that the regime types may differ in how accountability works: ruling party members in a democratic regime are contingently loyal based on policies, whereas their counterparts in an autocratic regime are loyal to the organization more than to policies. Using original survey experiments in Japan and China, we show that ruling party supporters in Japan oppose repression of a nationalistic issue, while their counterparts in China are more supportive of government repression than non-party supporters. We take this as evidence that party members in an autocratic regime (China) tend to support government policy despite their ideological opposition, providing the regime a cushion from domestic backlash to a greater degree than previous research suggests.