Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Zhang & Zhao on the Effect of Kinship Networks on Private Property Rights

Taisu Zhang (Duke) & Xiaoxue Zhao (Yale - Econ) have posted Do Kinship Networks Strengthen Private Property Rights? Evidence from Rural China on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This paper finds that the existence of strong kinship networks tends to enhance property rights 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 property rights mainly through enabling repeated social interaction between members, which facilitates collective action against coercive takings. Kinship networks are more effective than neighborhood cooperatives or religious groups at sustaining repeated social interaction 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.

Steve Clowney


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