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عنوان فارسی مقاله

نابرابری از تصرف زمین و نتیجه انقلابی: تجزیه و تحلیل اقتصادی اصلاحات ارضی چین از 1946-1952

کد مقاله سال انتشار مقاله انگلیسی ترجمه فارسی تعداد کلمات
29052 2012 16 صفحه PDF سفارش دهید محاسبه نشده
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عنوان انگلیسی
Inequality of land tenure and revolutionary outcome: An economic analysis of China's land reform of 1946–1952
منبع

Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)

Journal : Explorations in Economic History, Volume 49, Issue 4, October 2012, Pages 482–497

کلمات کلیدی
نابرابری حق تصرف - نتیجه انقلاب - اصلاحات ارضی - چین -
پیش نمایش مقاله
پیش نمایش مقاله نابرابری از تصرف زمین و نتیجه انقلابی: تجزیه و تحلیل اقتصادی اصلاحات ارضی چین از 1946-1952

چکیده انگلیسی

A paradoxical feature of China's land reform of 1946–1952 is that it was conducted far more radically in the north, where land tenure relations were far less unequal, than in the south where inequality of land tenure was distinctly more acute. That landlords could only be identified in south China was attributable to the sharply more active land rental market there, and the “single-cut” policy of defining the landlords narrowly as a rentier class. We attribute the predominance of an active land rental market in south China to three socioeconomic characteristics: 1) a sharply higher inequality in land distribution, 2) an organization of agriculture whose efficiency required the “unsupervised initiatives” of family labor, and 3) a distinctly higher proportion of “absentee landlords”. Our hypothesis of land rentals being the only variable distinguishing the landlords from the rich peasants and only in south China is strongly supported by empirical evidence.

مقدمه انگلیسی

In agrarian societies, land is not merely the most important factor of production (given its non-substitutable nature), it also serves as the “last resort” to which an ill-fated peasant could turn for insurance in times of crop failure. This exceptional significance of land has led Huntington (1968) to conclude that inequality of land tenure is the “bedrock of revolution” (p. 375). In this vein, inequality in land distribution (or “relative deprivation” more generally) is considered by some as “the most useful predictor” of revolutions and violent upheavals (Prosterman and Riedinger, 1987, p. 7; see also Scott, 1977). China's recent history provides a classic example of this intimate connection between land inequality on the one hand and the potential for revolution on the other. Indeed, the first significant endeavor that the Communists undertook as soon as they came to power was to reduce this inequality by implementing a thoroughgoing land reform (tudi gaige). 1 Its significance is reflected by the official statistics that up to 90% of the rural populace was affected in this land reform, with some 700 million Chinese mu (or 115 million acres) or 44% of the arable land redistributed ( Du, 1996). But while China's land reform–as with virtually all land reforms–violated the principles of private property, it severed, paradoxically, the presumed positive correlation between land inequality and political radicalism. Specifically, it was conducted far more radically in that part of China–the north–where land tenure relations were far less unequal, than in areas where inequality of land tenure was distinctly more acute and land rental markets far more active. For example, the dearth of households qualified for classification as landlords in the north had resulted in the misclassification of some rich peasant households ( Friedman et al., 1991). 2 Likewise, the highly equal distribution of land ownership in the north in an overall context of abject poverty meant that there was a limited amount of land available for redistribution, which allegedly led to the repeated land reforms ( Hinton, 1966). Conventional wisdom attempts to account for this paradox on grounds of shifting political exigencies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since the land reform began in the north during the Civil War (circa. 1946–49),3 a period when political legitimacy was of key concern to the Communist Party, the need to satisfy the demands of the poor for more land allegedly led the Communists to sacrifice the material interests of those who had wealth well above the village mean–the middle peasants included. But after defeating the Nationalists–their political opponent, political circumstances permitted the Communists to focus on reviving the ailing, war-torn agricultural economy; this led them to adopt a more tolerant policy towards peasants, especially the rich ones as they were judged to be the most productive group in the farm populace at the time. While this narrative may be able to explain why the CCP shifted the reform goal from solely satisfying the needs of the poor to benefiting the poor while protecting the rich peasants at the same time, it is reticent about what enabled them to redistribute less from the “haves” to the “have-nots” without potentially frustrating the poorer social strata, given the zero-sum nature of land reforms. We attempt to provide an economic explanation to account for this historical paradox. We begin with the observation that the rural households, which made up roughly 90 percent of the country's population then, had all received a class label from the CCP based on criteria deeply rooted in the Marxian concept of “exploitation”. And while there could be many sources/forms of alleged exploitation such as land renting, labor hiring and usurious money lending, land renting was the single-most important criterion that the CCP employed in delineating the landlord class in pre-revolutionary China. The “Middle Kingdom”, however, is a country characterized by enormous variations in factor endowments. Differences in population density, cropping patterns and land productivity, for instance, may all have conceivably given rise to sharp differences in the distribution of land tenure, the extent of factor markets development, and so forth. To the extent that “exploiting” others was equated with the particular behavior of renting (out) land, the incidence of “landlordism” must be sharply higher in areas characterized by an active land rental market (presumably premised on a higher physical productivity of land) and a distinctly sharper inequality in land tenure and other forms of wealth. 4 Indeed, our interpretation based on this fresh analytical perspective suggests that the self-sufficient owner–cultivators tended to make up the majority of the rural population in areas where both land inequality and land productivity were lower, and that an agriculture of dry farming permitted greater economies of scale in labor organization than an agriculture of wet-rice farming. In the north, the land rental market was inactive relative to the farm labor market and there were accordingly fewer landlords. But political pressure must have been so intense for those who were put in charge of the reform that they were obligated to enumerate a minimum list of households qualified for the “exploited” class label and to have their assets redistributed. These reformers did so by, for example, shifting the criterion of “exploitation” from land renting to labor hiring. But when even that failed to produce a long enough list, the reformers simply put the next tier(s)–namely the rich and middle peasants–to task (Shue, 1980, Hinton, 1966 and Qin, 1993). Conversely, in areas where a much sharper inequality of land tenure prevailed it was much easier for the Communists to identify a sufficient number of landlords. In particular, as some of these privileged households–many of whom did not even reside in the villages (the so-called “absentee landlords”)–possessed vastly more land than did the average household, the reformers were able to transfer land and other assets from them to the poor. Drawing upon a nationally representative survey in China in which retrospective information on families' designated class background, including a range of socioeconomic characteristics and even factor market (land and labor) participation, is uniquely available, we show how “ascriptive” class labels affixed to the rural households, particularly the landlords and rich peasants, were actually largely premised upon differences in the regional inequality structure and variations in factor market development (resulting initially from differences in factor endowments) across regions.5 Specifically, given that the CCP employed land rentals as the main criterion for identifying landlords, it was only able to find targets in areas where sharp inequalities in land distribution and accordingly an active land rental market prevailed, i.e., in the south. Conversely, in areas where the inequality in land was moderate and accordingly land rental activities were scarce, viz. the north, there were so few landlords that the CCP was unable to genuinely differentiate them from the rich peasants, hence resulting in the aforementioned misclassification. Our specific hypothesis thus predicts that land rentals would be the only significant variable capable of separating the landlords from the rich peasants and only in south China. Moreover, our “factor endowment” approach is consistent with the observation that China's land reform was successfully achieved at the expense of the “absentee landlords” (Roll, 1974), at least in the south where the overwhelming majority of these landlords resided, and with the counterfactual that there is no guarantee that the land reform in the south would have been less radically conducted had the prevailing inequality there been sharply lower. By the same token, one may reasonably contend that, had socioeconomic conditions in provinces in the north resembled those in the south, the land reform in the former would have been conducted in a much less radical manner. The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. In the next section (Section 2) we provide a summary account of the CCP's class policy; in particular, we highlight the overriding criterion (of “exploitation”) and the underlying (Marxian) theoretical rationale employed in delineating the boundary between the landlord and rich peasant classes, among the delineation of other social classes. We then introduce, in Section 3, a conceptual framework that is premised upon the sharp differences in a wide gamut of socioeconomic characteristics between the two broad Chinese regions. We expect these differences to have had a significant influence on the determinants of social class in reality. Based on this conceptual framework, we then spell out our two hypotheses regarding the determinants of social class. In Section 4, we introduce our data and variables and explain our empirical strategy. Empirical findings are discussed in Section 5, followed by a brief conclusion in Section 6.

نتیجه گیری انگلیسی

Throughout history, inequality of land tenure and social upheavals have always gone hand in hand. China is no exception. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has been ruling the whole of China since 1949, had premised its political legitimacy on the land issue. But China's land reform, which affected so many people, raises the issue of why the reformers initially behaved so much more radically in areas where the degree of inequality was in fact the lowest, and yet subsequently became distinctly more lenient toward the relatively affluent households in areas characterized by a much sharper inequality? The existing explanation, which premises on the fact that China's land reform actually occurred in two distinct stages–with the first being more radical than the second–sought the answer to this paradox in shifting political priorities. An unanswered question, however, is what enabled the CCP to adopt a more moderate policy towards the rich and middle peasants in areas where the degree of land inequality was sharply higher and where many large landowners simply did not reside in the villages where they held land. Differences in factor endowments across China and the differing organization of agriculture and socioeconomic outcomes to which they gave rise, we maintain, powerfully explain the seeming paradox in question. Consider the following counterfactual: had land reform in north China been conducted under socioeconomic conditions similar to those in the south, it would have been conducted much less radically. By the same token, there is no guarantee that the land reform in the south would have been less radically conducted had the prevailing land rental market there been sharply less active and without a significant proportion of its landlords being “absentees” while owning a disproportionate amount of the land. The degree and range of radical behaviors observed in north China can by and large be explained by the (“single-cut”) policy of defining the landlord class based on the overriding criterion of land rentals. As we hope to have cogently demonstrated with data that in this part of China it is a rather formidable task to distinguish the landlords from rich peasants regardless of the criterion employed (be it land renting or labor hiring), as there were simply too few landlords and too few differences in the socioeconomic characteristics between these two social classes. Small wonder, therefore, that in north China the reformers can only differentiate the landlords and rich peasants as a group vis-à-vis the middle peasants. To prove that they had successfully conducted land reform according to official instructions, it was thus not uncommon for reformers at the grassroots levels to classify what would be rich peasant households as landlords, for land reform to be conducted several times where land inequality was not particularly severe, and for the pertinent land division rule adopted to be excessively egalitarian, to name but a few examples of radicalism. It is thus not a mere coincidence that landlords could only be identified in the south and primarily due to their participation in the land rental markets. Precisely, it is only in regions where the prevailing degree of land inequality was distinctly higher, where wet-rice agriculture was not conducive to labor hiring so that the land rental market was sharply more active, and so on, that landlords, as a rentier class, could be identified empirically. It is these fundamental differences, according to our analysis, that produced the different revolutionary outcomes. Perhaps it is also worth pointing out, by way of conclusion, that our analysis also helps to better clarify the conflicting verdicts regarding the economic necessity of China's land reform. For example, in instances where land reform was carried out in areas where land and other forms of wealth were far more equally distributed than assumed, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that land reform could be justified only in political terms.29 On the other hand, land reform is appraised by others in a far more positive light, namely, that it did “bring about a net positive transfer to the rural population …… (of which) the majority was derived from the wealthy absentee landlords” (Roll, 1974, p. 95). None of these assessments is incorrect because it all boils down to which China we have in mind.

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