NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Institutional Causes of China's Great Famine, 1959-61

Xin Meng, Nancy Qian, Pierre Yared

NBER Working Paper No. 16361
Issued in September 2010
NBER Program(s):   POL

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.

download in pdf format
   (3200 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (3200 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16361

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Meng and Qian w14917 The Long Term Consequences of Famine on Survivors: Evidence from a Unique Natural Experiment using China's Great Famine
Almond, Edlund, Li, and Zhang w13384 Long-Term Effects Of The 1959-1961 China Famine: Mainland China and Hong Kong
Banerjee, Duflo, and Qian w17897 On the Road: Access to Transportation Infrastructure and Economic Growth in China
Autor, Dorn, and Hanson w18938 Untangling Trade and Technology: Evidence from Local Labor Markets
Martinez-Bravo, Padro i Miquel, Qian, and Yao w16948 Do Local Elections in Non-Democracies Increase Accountability? Evidence from Rural China
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us