Xiaohuan Lan: There Will Be Killing
time: 2015/12/19 views 755

There Will Be Killing: Collectivization and Death of Draft Animals

In 1950s, the newly founded People’s Republic of China underwent a fierce process of collectivization of production property. While a plenty of researches have demonstrated the property right ramifications of PRC’s premature collectivization, few of them provided empirical evidence. This seminar, held in Room 710, Fanhai Building, on 3rd, Dec. 2015, had the honor to invite Professor Xiaohuan Lan of CCES to present his latest co-authored work on the nexus of collectivization and death of draft animals. Professor Jimmy Chen, Professor Shuo Chen and Dr. Yu Liu with some of the PhD students participated in this seminar.


Beginning with the research background, Professor Lan observed that, before it evolving into the Great Leap Forward Movement and People’s Commune at the final stage of 1958, rural households were merged into various organizations. “From 1950 to 1955, individual peasant was gradually replaced by mutual aid team which was then taken placed by elementary co-op. However, in 1956, suddenly advanced co-op leaped to be the absolute majority of rural production organization. Subsequently in 1957, all rural families became members of advanced co-op.” Professor Lan said. “The sudden acceleration of collectivization could be accomplished by voluntary participation of peasants.”

To support his view, Professor Lan demonstrated that after 1954, the national inventory of draft animals had decline annually dramatically from about 57 million heads to less than 54 million heads. Another piece of evidence came from the substantial increase of the quantity of cowhide sold nationwide after 1954.

Further, Professor Lan collected data from 42 de-classified government files, internal or public reports, 1720 county gazetteers and records of local weather stations. The final dataset covered 6 years, from 1952-1957; 1600 counties which accounted for 71% of all Chinese counties; 77% of all rural population; animal inventory, population, land, grain output; floods and droughts.

Professor Lan ran a DID estimation. He set the log of draft animal inventory as explained variable which was regressed to the collectivization, the year dummy, the county control variable, and other control variables. Particularly, Professor Lan used the ratio between the area of land of middle peasants and that of all peasants as the measure of collectivization. The empirical results supported Professor Lan’s hypothesis. The collectivization had a significant and substantial negative effect on the log of draft animal inventory. “The collectivization accounted for about 5.4% decline of the draft animal with all the other variables controlled.” Based on other empirical regression, Professor Lan ruled out the effect of mechanization and the effect of tragedy of the commons. He also found that the increase of collectivization had resulted in 5.4% decline of grain output.

In conclusion, Professor Lan pointed out that the premature collectivization caused the killing of draft animals by the merged peasants who were deprived of property rights and as an desperate try, they executed their draft animals in order to possess the cowhides or sold them for a decent price.




By SHI Shuo

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