The Unintended Long-term Consequences of Mao’s Mass Send-Down Movement: Marriage, Social Network, and Happiness


Year: 2016 HiCN Working Paper No. 213

This paper uses the China General Social Survey (CGSS) 2003 to evaluate the long-term consequences of a forced migration, the state’s “send-down” movement (shang shan xia xiang, orup to the mountains, down to the villages) during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, on individuals’ nonmaterial well-being. The send-down program resettled over 16 million urban youths to the countryside to carry out hard manual labor over the years 1968-1978. Most of them were allowed to return to urban areas when the Cultural Revolution ended. We find that those who had the send- down experience have worse marriage outcome, lower-quality social network, and lower level of happiness than their non-send-down counterparts. The negative effects of the forced migration are robust against a detailed set of family backgrounds and personal characteristics.

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