Did Confucianism Check or Help Growth?

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Confucianism had been considered as anti-growth until the East Asian growth miracle occurred. This paper constructs and analyzes a county level dataset for China to find that the growth consequence of the doctrine differed under different political orders. Ordinary least squares and instrumental variable regressions agree in showing that Confucianism promoted per capita output growth in Maoist China, but not in the preceding or following regimes. Evidence indicates that the doctrine promoted human and physical capital accumulation, but impeded innovation. Confucianism appears as incompatible with sustained growth, which needs to be driven not by accumulation, but by technological progress.

JEL classification: N15, N35, O11, O15, O53

Key words: China; Confucianism; development; growth

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