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James Kung’s keynote speech at the 2nd WCCE

James Kung, Yan Ai Foundation Professor of Social Science at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, was among the keynote speakers at the Second World Congress of Comparative Economics «1917 –2017: Revolution and Evolution in Economic Development» in Saint Petersburg on June 15-17, 2017.

Kung’s research interests encompass diverse topics in the areas of comparative historical development and the Chinese political economy. Currently, he is working on the relationship between institutions, culture, and long-run economic growth. More specifically, Professor Kung is studying the rise of China’s meritocratic civil exam system (keju) and its long-term persistent effects, as well as the formation of culture (of Neo-Confucianism).

In his keynote presentation, «Long Live Keju! The Persistent Effects of China’s Imperial Examination System», James Kung discussed the value of education in the Chinese and East Asian societies. He showed that this distinct culture reflects the persistent effect of China’s millennium-long civil examination system or keju—an institution designed to select officials to serve in government bureaucracy based on the examination of a coherent corpus of Confucianism-related knowledge. Specifically, he presented evidence on the link between historical success in the imperial examination and the distinct Chinese culture of valuing education today, and showed that this persistent effect is “transmitted” not just through human capital (genetic and otherwise) across generations, but also by means of culture; regions having produced more jinshi (the highest attainable qualification) in the past are also the places where the belief that education plays an important role in determining success is most profound today.

It is also worth mentioning, that James Kung took part in the 3rd ICSID conference «Regional Heterogeneity and Incentives for Governance» in Pushkin three years ago where he presented his paper «Land Revenue Windfalls, Signaling, and Career Incentives of China’s Local Leaders».