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    Deltas Apart - Factor Endowments, Colonial Extraction and Pathways of Agricultural Development in Vietnam

    Lopez Jerez, Montserrat


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    Citation for published version (APA): Lopez Jerez, M. (2014). Deltas Apart - Factor Endowments, Colonial Extraction and Pathways of Agricultural Development in Vietnam.

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    Deltas Apart Factor Endowments, Colonial Extraction and

    Pathways of Agricultural Development in Vietnam

    Montserrat López Jerez


    by due permission of the School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Sweden.

    To be defended at EC3: 207. Date 2014-12-19 and time 10:15.

    Faculty opponent

    C. Peter Timmer

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    Document name


    Date of issue: 2014-11-17


    Montserrat López Jerez

    Sponsoring organization

    Title and subtitle: Deltas Apart – Factor Endowments, Colonial Extraction and Pathways of Agricultural Development in Vietnam


    This study provides an explanation of the different pathways of agricultural change and economic development in north and south Vietnam. It shows that pre-colonial factor endowments conditioned the development of the rice economies of the two deltas in Tonkin and Cochinchina. The study relates to, and deviates from, the new literature on the colonial origins of contemporary development (Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinson; Engerman and Sokoloff), and proposes an alternative understanding of how historical processes of economic transformation are shaped. The analysis revives the factor endowment approach (Boserup, Myint), re-interprets an old and controversial debate (Moral Economy versus Rational Peasant), and presents a new understanding of extraction in colonial times (based on Milanovic, Lindert and Williamson). The study’s theoretical interpretation of scant empirical data suggests that factor endowments conditioned the surplus capacity and shaped the institutional arrangements, which affected the equality of opportunity for the majority of rice farmers.

    Key words: Factor Endowments, Equality of Opportunity, Extraction, Agricultural Transformation, Initial Conditions, Rice Economy, Colonialism, Vietnam, Tonkin, Cochinchina

    Classification system and/or index terms (if any)

    Supplementary bibliographical information Language: English

    ISSN and key title: 1400-4860 ISBN: 978-91-87793-10-3

    Recipient’s notes Number of pages Price

    Security classification

    I, the undersigned, being the copyright owner of the abstract of the above-mentioned dissertation, hereby

    grant to all reference sources permission to publish and disseminate the abstract of the above-mentioned


    Signature Date

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    Deltas Apart

    Factor Endowments, Colonial Extraction and Pathways of Agricultural Development in


    Montserrat López Jerez

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    Copyright Montserrat López Jerez

    School of Economics and Management, Department of Economic History ISBN 978-91-87793-10-3 (print) ISBN 978-91-87793-11-0 (pdf) ISSN 1400-4860 Printed in Sweden by Media-Tryck, Lund University Lund 2014

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    To Jonas, Nora and Otto and

    In memory of my parents

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    Table of Contents

    Acknowledgements 9

    1. Introduction 13 1.1 Case: The Two Deltas 16 1.2 Revisiting the Colonial Debate 21 1.3 The Historical Fortunes of Vietnam: a Reversal? 23 1.4 A Revised Analytical Framework 26 1.5 Methodology 31 1.6 Sources, Previous Research, and Contribution 35 1.7 Disposition 41

    2. Factor Endowments and Two Stylized Dynamics of Agricultural Change 43

    2.1 The Two Processes of Land Intensification 45 2.2 High Population Densities in a Closed Arable Frontier: The High Level Equilibrium Trap 46 2.3 Abundance of Land to Man Ratios in an Open Land Frontier: A Vent for Surplus 60 2.4 Summing up and Implications 68

    3. Two Types of Colonial Rice Economy 69 3.1 The Demographic Imbalance 72 3.2 Rice Land and Intensification 77 3.3 Tonkin and the closing of the High Level Equilibrium Trap 79 3.4 Cochinchina: the growth-enhancing investments 104 3.5 Concluding Remarks 113

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    4. The Institutional Dynamics of an Open and a Closed Frontier 115 4.1 The Inclusiveness and Extractiveness of the Transformation 117 4.2 Two Rice Village Economies 120 4.3 Land Distribution 128 4.4 Consolidation, Absentee Landlordism, and Tenancy in Cochinchina: a colonial or market-led formation? 138 4.5 French involvement and Colonial Politics 143 4.6 Concluding Remarks 147

    5. Measuring Rates of Extraction 149 5.1 The Two Deltas: Expectations on Linking Surplus, Inequalities and Extraction 152 5.2 Red River Delta: Subsistence at the Intensive Margins of Production 160 5.3 Cochinchina: Stratification without Specialization 168 5.4 Social Tables of the Rice Economy 182 5.5 Concluding Remarks 194

    6. Linking Past and Present 197 6.1 The Present Background 198 6.2 From Extractive to Inclusive? A Framework 208 6.3 Collectivistic Involution 224 6.4 A Reinterpretation of the Initial Conditions and Processes 227

    7. Factor Endowments and Development Paths 231 7.1 Colonial Institutions: a sufficient condition? 233 7.2 Extractive Institutions and Path Dependence 236 7.3 Determinism and History 240 7.4 A Final Note on History, Path Dependence, and Change 244

    References 247

    Maps 265

    Appendix 269

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    In this moment of introspection and retrospection, it may be tempting to think that this was always meant to happen. But that would not be accurate. When in barely one year, the family doubled and I lost one member, finding my way back to this thesis required the warmth and support of wonderful people inside and outside work. I am profoundly indebted. Confronted with trying to identify how this journey started, one realizes how difficult it is to write history, even one’s own.

    In Vietnam for the first time as a 23-year-old working in the commercial section of the Spanish Embassy, I never imagined I would spend so many years doing research on the country. I lived in HCMC for one year, and even then I could feel that the present was not enough. There was a sort of collective eagerness for the promise of a more prosperous future. Or at least that was the impression induced by feeling the asphalt vibrating under the wheels of millions of motorbikes, and accompanied by the incessant honking of impatient drivers – a constant reminder that one should not get too cosy. But the past was not that far. As the only “foreigner” (see white) in my neighbourhood, I was received with a certain blend of curiosity and scepticism, and a small dose of violence. In Mrs Kim, a widow who had previously worked for the Americans and could finally use her English again, I found my little oasis. She offered me great kindness and a daily cup of cafe sua da before cycling to work. After a few more years working in my beloved Laos, we landed in Lund. Referring to Andersson and Gunnarsson, I could not foresee then how important the two men behind those surnames would become in my life. Christer Gunnarsson was my first teacher in Lund, and in his always generous and subtle manner somehow got me thinking of applying for a PhD position. That was just the beginning. His relentlessly curious, fair, and critical mind has set a standard of scholarship yet to be matched. His friendship has made it all even more worth it. It is true that great minds think alike, so I was not surprised by Martin Andersson’s ability to see the bottom line of things; in an always friendly and kind way, he has persuaded me during all these years to go to the essence and specificity of

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    arguments. I can say with great pride that I am standing on the shoulders of two giants.

    This thesis benefited greatly from comments by Patrick Svensson and Tobias Axelsson at the final seminar. I also thank Martin Dribe, director of the PhD programme, for support