Do Kinship Networks Strengthen Private Property? Evidence from Rural China
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies (2015, Forthcoming)
40 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2013 Last revised: 6 Aug 2020
Date Written: February 8, 2014
This paper finds that the existence of strong kinship networks tends to limit state interference with private property use in rural China by protecting villagers against unwanted government land takings. It then distinguishes kinship networks from other kinds of social networks by showing that their deterrence effect against coercive takings is far more significant and resilient under conditions of prevalent rural-urban migration than deterrence by neighborhood cooperatives and religious groups. Finally, the paper attempts to identify and differentiate between various possible mechanisms behind these effects: It argues that kinship networks protect private property usage mainly through encouraging social reciprocity between kinsmen, which facilitates collective action against coercive takings. Kinship networks are more effective than neighborhood cooperatives or religious groups at sustaining reciprocity over long distances and, therefore, are less affected by rural-urban migration. Altruism between kinsmen, however, does not emerge from the data as a major factor.
Keywords: Property rights, land takings, kinship, social networks
JEL Classification: D70, K11, P26, P32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
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By Taisu Zhang