Was There a Revolution? Stratification over the Very Long Term in Liaoning, China, 1749-2005

Cameron D. Campbell, University of California, Los Angeles
James Z. Lee, University of Michigan

To assess the impact of political change in China after 1949 on stratification patterns, we examine changes in intergenerational social mobility in Liaoning Province between 1749 and 2004. We analyze a unique 250 year panel dataset that combines household registers for more than 250,000 individuals between 1749 and 1909 with linked data on a sample of more than 10,000 twentieth century descendants of the register population gathered from retrospective surveys. We examine long-term trends in the association between parents' and child’s attainment chances to test whether or not policies after 1949 weakened the importance of parental characteristics, as is often claimed. We then examine the effect of the Revolution on the social composition of elites by examining whether or not prominent families after 1949 were ‘new’ in the sense that they were previously undistinguished, or were ‘old’ in the sense that they were successful before the twentieth century.

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Presented in Session 15: Historical Perspectives on Inequality