Origins of power actors in historical China: How war made some regions produce more political elites than others

22 January 2024, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Political elites can affect state-building, but the reasons for the geographical clustering of political elites have not been thoroughly explored. By focusing on historical China and utilizing a unique dataset covering the period from 618 to 1911, we have discovered that the regional disparity in producing political elites can be attributed to past exposure to war. Specifically, wars with external regimes were more likely to provide officials with military experience. Our research reveals that war has played a crucial role in the rise of political elites through three channels: bolstering the state's investment in administrative and defensive capacity, providing access to the bureaucratic system, and stimulating the formation of social capital that is beneficial for education. By examining the impact of wars on the bureaucracy, our study expands the discussions surrounding the concept of "war made the states" and provides a paradigm of "war-and-power redistribution" within a strong autocratic state.


Political Elites


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