China Conquered or Not: Testing the Dynastic Cycle Hypothesis
Qiang Chen
Shandong University
3/23/2011 5:08:08 PM
Abstract:
Ever since Western Zhou, Chinese dynasties were in conflict with nomadic powers in the north on and off. In the worst situations, Chinese dynasties were conquered. Did these conquests happen purely by accident, or were there some common trends? According to the dynastic cycle hypothesis, towards the later part of a dynasty, its ruling class becomes more corrupt, and its political and military powers dwindle. Consequently, if a Chinese dynasty was established much earlier than a neighboring nomadic dynasty, then the Chinese dynasty faced a greater threat of being conquered. This is confirmed by historical data since the Qin dynasty using a probit regression. Other control variables, such as climate proxies and Great Wall’s protection, are not statistically significant. The results hold after expanding the sample to include observations in the world history.
Keyword: 
China, conquered, dynastic cycle, climate shock, cliometric approach