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Judith Banister An Analysis of Recent Data on the Population of China, Population and Development Review, Vol. 10, No. 2. (Jun., 1984), pp. 241-271.
This paper compares 1982 census data to statistics gathered by the previous two censuses, the permanent population registration system, the vital registration system, the 1982 nationwide fertility survey, and other surveys. Nuptiality and fertility data from the 1982 census and the nationwide fertility survey are analyzed. The mortality levels and trends implied by the intercensal survival ratios are described as plausible but not similar to any existing model life tables, and as higher mortality than official death rates would imply. Infant mortality estimates are derived from census data on children ever born and children surviving, using the Feeneey variant of a Brass technique. Information from the 1982 census on employment and occupation, minority nationalities, and urban populations is described and compared with sparse previously available data.
Basil Ashton, Kenneth Hill, Alan Piazza, Robin Zeitz, Famine in China, 1958-61, Population and Development Review, Vol. 10, No. 4. (Dec., 1984), pp. 613-645.
The largest famine in human history occurred in China in modern times and passed almost unrecognized by the outside world. Demographic evidence indicates that famine during 1958-61 caused almost 30 million premature deaths in China and reduced fertility very significantly. Data on food availability suggest that, in contrast to many other famines, a root cause of this one was a dramatic decline in grain output that continued for several years, involving in 1960-61 a drop in output of more than 25 percent. Causes of this drop are found in both natural disaster and government policy. The government's responses are reviewed and implications of this experience for Chinese and world development are considered.
Xizhe Peng, Demographic Consequences of the Great Leap Forward in China's Provinces, Population and Development Review, Vol. 13, No. 4. (Dec., 1987), pp. 639-670.
This article examines the demographic consequences of China's Great Leap Forward--the massive and ultimately unsuccessful drive during 1958-62 to leap ahead in production by mobilizing society and reorganizing the peasantry into large-scale communes. Severe excess mortality and massive fertility shortfalls are documented, but with wide variations among provinces and between rural and urban areas. The demographic crisis was caused, in the first instance, by nationwide food shortages. However, these are attributable to declines in grain production, entitlement failure, and changes in consumption patterns, all of which are ultimately traceable to political and economic policies connected with the Great Leap.
Justin Yifu Lin, Collectivization and China's Agricultural Crisis in 1959-1961, The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 98, No. 6. (Dec., 1990), pp. 1228-1252.
The agricultural crisis in China in 1959-61, after the initial success of the collectivization movement, resulted in 30 million extra deaths. In this paper, a game theory hypothesis proposes the main cause of this catastrophe. I argue that, because of the difficulty in supervising agricultural work, the success of an agricultural collective depends on a self-enforcing contract, in which each one promises to discipline oneself. A self-enforcing contract, however, can be sustained only in a repeated game. In the fall of 1958, the right to withdraw from a collective was deprived. The nature of the collectivization was thus changed from a repeated game to a one-time game. As a result, the self-enforcing contract could not be sustained and agricultural productivity collapsed. The empirical evidence is consistent with this hypothesis.
Gene Hsin Chang, Guanzhong James Wen, Food Availability versus Consumption Efficiency: Causes of the Chinese Famine, China Economic Review Vol.9, No.2 Fall 1998, pp. 157-65.
The Chinese famine of 1958-61 is characterized not only by its great magnitude but also by the uniqueness of its causes. In this article we present evidence that conventional reasons; including FAD and entitlement failure, fail to offer plausible explanations for the tragedy because of the obvious contradiction between food availability and excessive deaths during the famine period. Our thesis is that the famine is caused by consumption inefficiency, a result of the free food supply in the communal dining system in the famine period. This causal factor is unique and unprecedented in the famine history and theory. Yet the thesis is consistent with a basic economic precept if property rights for food in a society are not defined, food consumption will be inefficient. This inefficiency makes the previously barely adequate food supply in China inadequate, causing a large-scale famine.
Dali L. Yang, Fubing Su, The Politics of Famine and Reform in Rural China, China Economic Review, v9 n2 Fall 1998, pp. 141-55.
While the causes of the Great Leap Famine must be sought in politics, the general literature has tended to place too much emphasis on the role of top leaders. Focusing on the commune mess hall as a key institutional link, the paper points to systematic patterns in the incidence of famine across provinces and suggests that these patterns were embedded in China's political history dating back to the communist takeover. The paper also argues that the Great Leap Famine induced profound disillusionment with agrarian radicalism and laid the cognitive and political foundations for dismantling the commune system in China.
Yang, Dali L., Calamity and reform in China: State, rural society, and institutional change since the Great Leap Famine, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996, pp. xx, 351.
Interprets the rise of rural reforms in China as the outcome of a historically grounded struggle between state and peasants that was fundamentally conditioned by the Great Leap Famine of 1959-61, which delegitimated collective institutions in rural China. Provides an overview of the events leading to the Great Leap Forward and of the differential effect of the Great Leap Famine on China's provinces. Examines the mechanisms that caused the Great Leap Famine. Examines the legacy of the Great Leap Famine for rural policy and institutional change in its aftermath, during the Cultural Revolution, and in the era of post-Mao reforms. Provides an overview of the evolution of state-rural society relations under the reforms.
Yang is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.
Justin Yifu Lin and Dennis Tao Yang, Food Availability, Entitlements and the Chinese Famine of 1959-61, Economic Journal, 110:460, Jan. 2000, pp136 -158.
Food availability decline and Sen's entitlement are two leading approaches in understanding causes of famine. Previous research based on case studies has given independent support to each approach. This paper analyses the Chinese famine of 1959-61 by considering jointly the urban bias and the decline in food availability as causes. We find that both factors contributed significantly to the increase in death rates during this famine. To our knowledge, this paper is the first econometric study to assess the importance of famine causes using the entitlement approach.
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