Persistence through Revolutions

In Mao’s China, the former landlords and rich peasants were stripped of their possessions and their children were barred from going to university.

So the descendants of these people could not inherit any wealth from them, nor could they gain any advantage through their family positions in society.

And yet, today those descendants earn about 16% more than others in China.

Almost half a century after the revolutions, individuals whose grandparents belonged to the pre-revolution elite earn 16 percent more and have completed more than 11 percent additional years of schooling than those from non-elite households. In addition, individuals with pre-revolution elite grandparents hold different values: they are less averse to inequality, more individualistic,more pro-market, and more likely to see hard work as critical to success. Through intergenerational transmission of values, socioeconomic conditions thus survived one of the most aggressive attempts to eliminate differences in the population and to foster mobility.

“One of the most aggressive attempts” somehow feels manages to feel understated. The communist agenda invariably ends in murderous rampage, but I understand that this is not the place to describe this in detail.

These revolutions represent one of the most extreme attempts inhuman history to eliminate the advantages of the elite, to eradicate inequality in wealth and education, and to erase cultural differences in the population, especially between the rich and the poor. The revolutions aimed to shut down two critical channels of intergenerational transmission: transmission through income and wealth (e.g., inheritance) and transmission through formal human capital accumulation (e.g., schooling).













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1 Response to Persistence through Revolutions

  1. Pingback: The alternative to hierarchies | Henning's blog

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