States and Wars: China's Long March towards Unity and its Consequences, 221 BC - 1911AD

  • 19 Jan 2021

    17:00-18:30, Online

  • Seminar in Economic and Social History   Add to Calendar
Speaker: Debin Ma

Hitotsubashi University

This event is part of our Economics and Social History series.

Abstract: We examine the long-term pattern of state formation and the mythical historical Chinese unity under one single political regime based on the compilation of a large geocoded annual data series of political regimes and incidences of warfare between 221 BC and 1911 AD. By classifying our data sets into two types of regimes - agrarian and nomadic - and three types of warfare - agrarian/nomadic, agrarian/agrarian and internal rebellions - and applying an Autoregressive Distributed Lag (ARDL) model, we find that nomadic-agrarian warfare and internal rebellion strengthens unification but agrarian/agrarian warfare entrenches fragmentation. Our research highlights the combination of China's precocious ideology of a single unified ruler, environmental circumscription on the easternmost end of Eurasia and persistent agrarian-nomadic warfare as the driving force behind China's eventual unity. We further discuss the long-run implications of Chinese unity on economic performance in a global context.

The Economic and Social History series for Hilary Term 2021 is convened by Stephen Broadberry and Mattia Bertazzini.

For more information on this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact