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The persistence of institutions in regions: shocks, public policies, and inequalities

Wang, Han (2022) The persistence of institutions in regions: shocks, public policies, and inequalities. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004462


This thesis presents an empirical analysis of the influence of regional institutions on the social and economic inequalities through crises and policies changes. It is organised into four independent chapters. Chapter 1 investigates how an indigenous government institution affect contemporary economic development. Government institutions have long been known as critical drivers of growth. However, it is still unknown whether the institution is resilient after experiencing large political shocks. Using the textual data from government records, we examine how differences in local government quality in Imperial times determined current differences in economic development. Chapter 2 focuses on government institutions’ role in explaining performance differences in pandemic prevention. Current research so far has primarily overlooked linking institutions to social outcomes. How institutions react to public health crises has attracted minimal attention. We collected and combined the Black Death’s mortality rate and duration data with the location of autonomous cities to study whether a greater degree of autonomy could have allowed cities to react effectively after the pandemics. Chapter 3 moves beyond public-order institutions to study the persistent economic effect of the private-order institutions. We used historical administrative data, the Statistics of Agriculture and Commerce, to digitalise the conditions of the chamber system of China in the 1910s. To measure contemporary business performance, we rely on the Firm Registration Database, which systemically documents start-ups’ emergence since 1975. Using a difference-in-differences strategy, we identify cities heavily permeated with the historical chamber system as enjoying more entrepreneurs and flourishing with innovative performances when the market economy reopens. Our instrumental variable strategy has also verified these results. Chapter 4 investigates the influence of culture. Within the background of son preference, we discuss how the family planning policy distorts a couple’s decision-making about childbirth. Under natural conditions, parents satisfy potential son preferences by giving birth until a son is born. However, with restrictions on family size, the cultural preference for sons can no longer be smoothed out by adding additional children. Parents may practise prenatal and postnatal discrimination against daughters, lowering their probability of survival relative to sons. Drawing on the natural experiment of the Two-Child Policy, we examine whether inconsiderate policies could further trigger the dark side of a backward culture.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2022 Han Wang
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Supervisor: Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés and Lee, Neil

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