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WHO GETS IT WHEN YOU GO: THE LEGAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE ENDING OF HOUSEHOLDS (JUEHU) IN THE SONG DYNASTY (960-1279 C.E.)

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image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

In imperial China the normal pattern for the passing on of property across generations, giving assets to daughters as dowry at marriage and bequeathing the family estate in equal portions to sons upon the deaths of the parents, was distorted when both parents died without there being a living son, a situation called the extinguishing of the household (jeuhu). Under some dynasties the state attempted to deal with this phenomenon by mandating the posthumous adoption of sons, but during the Song (960-1279 C.E.) the government accepted the fact of the frequent ending of household (and family) lines, and established an elaborate set of laws and policies to assure the orderly transfer of assets. Song policy in this regard was prompted by the state's desire to avoid the concentration of land in the hands of the rich and the potential loss of tax revenues. Song policies both reflected and supported two social trends, the increasing independence of smaller stem family units from the influence of larger kin groupings and the increasing control of property by women, because most of those receiving juehu assets were women.

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/content/journals/10.1163/156852000511321
2000-08-01
2016-12-08

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