Persistence Despite Revolutions

46 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2020 Last revised: 3 Dec 2021

See all articles by Alberto F. Alesina

Alberto F. Alesina

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Marlon Seror

University of Bristol

David Y. Yang

Harvard University

Yang You

The University of Hong Kong

Weihong Zeng

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: April 2020

Abstract

Can efforts to eradicate inequality in wealth and education eliminate intergenerational persistence of socioeconomic status? The Chinese Communist Revolution and Cultural Revolution aimed to do exactly that. Using newly digitized archival records and contemporary census and household survey data, we show that the revolutions were effective in homogenizing the population economically in the short run. However, the pattern of inequality that characterized the pre-revolution generation re-emerges today. Almost half a century after the revolutions, individuals whose grandparents belonged to the pre-revolution elite earn 16 percent more income and have completed more than 11 percent additional years of schooling than those from non-elite households. We find evidence that human capital (such as knowledge, skills, and values) has been transmitted within the families, and the social capital embodied in kinship networks has survived the revolutions. These channels allow the pre-revolution elite to rebound after the revolutions, and their socioeconomic status persists despite one of the most aggressive attempts to eliminate differences in the population.

Suggested Citation

Alesina, Alberto F. and Seror, Marlon and Yang, David Y. and You, Yang and Zeng, Weihong, Persistence Despite Revolutions (April 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27053, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3586185

Alberto F. Alesina (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-8388 (Phone)
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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Marlon Seror

University of Bristol ( email )

University of Bristol,
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Bristol, BS8 ITH
United Kingdom

David Y. Yang

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yang You

The University of Hong Kong ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, HK
China

Weihong Zeng

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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