Size and structure of disaster relief when state capacity is limited: China's 1823 flood

Ni, Y. & Uebele, M., 2015, p. 1-59, 60 p. (EHES Working Paper Series).

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  • Size and structure of disaster relief when state capacity is limited

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  • Yuping Ni
  • Martin Uebele
This paper presents new archival evidence about amount and structure of central government disaster relief during China’s devastating flood of 1823. While the flood affected 20 percent of China’s counties, spending per capita was sizable and distributed between provinces depending on the intensity of flooding. However, because of its small relative size and thus limited state capacity the Chinese government had to spend about half of annual tax income on relief during 1823. We thus conclude that short-term disaster relief was prioritized by the Qing administration over long-term investments, which may have contributed to its secular economic stagnation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages60
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameEHES Working Paper Series
PublisherEuropean Historical Economics Society


  • Daoguang depression, disaster relief, state capacity, China, 19th century, GOVERNMENT, TAMBORA, ECONOMY, DECLINE

ID: 22231388