No. 16 Brownbag
Topic: Prosperity in Chaos : Chamber of Commerce, Institution and “Capitalism” in Republican China (1912-1937)
Speaker: Zhai Runzhuo , PhD student in economic history at Keble College, Oxford University
Host: Yexin Zhou , Associate Professor of the School of Economics and Resource Management, BNU
Time: 12:00-13:30pm, September. 18th, 2018
Venue: Rm 1726, Hou-Zhu-Lou, Beijing Normal University
Introduction of speaker
Zhai Runzhuo, a PhD student in economic history at Keble College, Oxford University. He is now studying under Professor Stephen Broadberry, the current president of the Economic History Society. His main research areas cover Cliometrics, China's long-term economic performance and vicissitude, and the accounting of historical living standards. He has participated in the “International Annual Conference on Quantitative History" and has served as the paper review guest of the 5th International Annual Conference on Quantitative History. Now, he is also a visiting researcher at the Center of Chinese Entrepreneur studies, Tsinghua University.
Republican China is an era with frequent wars, political anarchy and natural disasters. However, it is also an age with moderate economic growth and gradual modernization, which seems inconsistent with the traditional economic theory and wisdoms. Why could the economy obtain stable development during this chaotic period, especially the so-called “capitalism” sectors (industry and finance)? To solve the puzzle, this paper evaluates the mainstream explanations. It finds that in addition to the traditional views (trade or railway), channel from the perspective of institutions is quite crucial, and the birth of the Chamber of Commerce and the rise of commercial class played an important role in the growth of “capitalism”. The Chamber as an organization of the commercial class, developed into a quasi-autonomy political group during the chaotic era, offsetting the loss of formal institution. Apart from the historical analysis, this paper also makes the tests with quantitative methods based on uniquely constructed datasets in Republican China.
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China Institute of Innovation and Development, BNU
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