Is there a link among Confucianism, institutions, and economic performance?

Tzong-biau LIN, Lok-sang HO

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This paper is, therefore, not an attempt to test the cultural endowment thesis in general, nor is it intended to test whether Confucianism had a role in the economic development of several rapidly growing East Asian economies. We contend that it is impossible to demonstrate whether Confucianism has been instrumental in causing “Confucianistic” behavior. However, we will examine the role “Confucianistic” behavior plays in economic institutions. Without affirming or disputing the role Confucianism has played in molding Confucianistic behavior, we argue that economic institutions are an undisputed factor accounting for the formation of Confucianistic behavior. We will also attempt to illustrate our argument by drawing on examples from Hong Kong and China. Section II provides a discussion of “Confucianistic” behavior. In Section III we argue that cultural factors must not be presumed to be exogenous. Economic factors, and political as well as social opportunities tend to condition the evolution of culture, just as the evolution of culture may influence the behavior of individuals, further causing developments in economic institutions. Section IV examines some evidence for the above argument. Finally in Section V we present our conclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConfucianism and economic development
PublisherChung-Hua Institution for Economic Research
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9578562748
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995


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