MPhil Thesis Presentation
Fiscal Capacity Makes Foes: China's Salt Monopoly System and the Rise of Secret Societies, 1680-1911
Abstract
Is investing fiscal capacity always conducive to sate building? The answer may be not. This research explores an extractive institution of the salt monopoly and the upheaval of anti-government secret societies in Qing China (1644-1911) and finds that enhancing fiscal capacity by regulating salt price can generate enemies for the regime and hamper state building. Using prefecture-level panel data, the difference-in-difference estimation indicates that a prefecture with a higher ratio of counties in which salt price was determined or intervened by the central government would lead to a 30% increase in secret societies. By analyzing 579 counties which have government-regulated salt price records with a period from 1776 to 1911, I find that a 10% increase in salt price would raise secret society cases by 0.2% for panel analysis, and 5.4% for the aggregated cross-sectional regression. To address endogenous problems, I exploit the interaction term between the distance to the Lianghuai salt district border and whether the previous year has large-scale wars as an instrumental variable to uncover the causality of the regulated salt price on secret societies. I also provide suggestive evidence that secret societies may affect economic and social development in the long run.

Speaker(s) Mr. WANG Runnan
Date 10 Jul 2019 (Wednesday)
Time 3:00 pm
Venue Room 3006 (via Lift 3 or Lift 4), Academic Building, HKUST
Caption
Mr. WANG Runnan
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
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