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Size and structure of disaster relief when state capacity is limited: China’s 1823 flood

Ni Yuping () and Martin Uebele
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Ni Yuping: History Department, Tsinghua University

No 83, Working Papers from European Historical Economics Society (EHES)

Abstract: This paper presents new archival evidence about amount and structure of central government disaster relief during China’s devastating flood of 1823. While the flood affected 20 percent of ChinaÕs counties, spending per capita was sizable and distributed between provinces depending on the intensity of flooding. However, because of its small relative size and thus limited state capacity the Chinese government had to spend about half of annual tax income on relief during 1823. We thus conclude that short-term disaster relief was prioritized by the Qing administration over long-term investments, which may have contributed to its secular economic stagnation.

Keywords: Daoguang Depression; disaster relief; China; 19th century; state capacity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cna and nep-his
Date: 2015-07
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