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Famine, Finance and Political Power: Crop Failure and Land-Tax Exemptions in Late Eighteenth-Century Chosôn Korea

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This study analyses Chosôn (1392-1910) state responses to protracted and severe crop failure in the late eighteenth century. Confucian ideology and an elaborate relief system made it difficult for the state to let its present tax needs override concerns for rural communities, and steadily increasing tax exemptions severely strained state finances. However, these exemptions were still far from sufficient, and this period saw constantly increasing numbers of starving people. This study argues that political considerations and socio-economic interests influenced the tax exemption process and that the resulting unequal allocation exacerbated the famine problem in the provinces disadvantaged by the system. Cette étude fait l'analyse des réponses du gouvernement Chosôn en vue de la faillite sévère et prolongée des moissons pendant plusieurs années vers la fin du dix-huitiême siècle. L'idéologie confucéenne, ainsi qu'un système d'allégements trop élaboré, rendait difficile pour l'État de donner la priorité à ses propres besoins fiscales au-dessus de son égard pour les besoins de la communauté campagnarde, si bien que les dispenses d'impôts allaient toujours en croissance, grevant sévèrement les ressources de l'État. Toutefois, ces dispenses ne suffisaient jamais aux besoins, tant bien qu'à cette époque le nombre de personnes affamées montait toujours. La présente étude prétend que les intérêts politiques et socio-économiques influençaient le procédé des dispenses d'impôts, et qu'en conséquence l'allocation inégale aggravait le problème de la famine dans les provinces désavantagées par ce système.


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