China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
We examine the careers of Qing civil servants who were initially appointed as county magistrates. While many such officials were never promoted to a higher rank or served only briefly, some reached high office or had long careers. We focus on identifying factors that predicted such success. We begin by examining how background and qualifications of newly appointed county magistrates varied by time, region. and the rating of the county as difficult or important. For qualifications we compare holders of exam degrees such as jinshi and juren with holders of purchased degrees. We then examine careers after initial appointment, focusing on such outcomes as promotion, or lateral movement to similarly ranked positions in other locations, and exit from service. We examine the influence not only of background and qualifications on career trajectories, but also of the characteristics of the county or prefecture of first or subsequent appointment. Basic questions include whether officials who served in more locations rated important or difficult had better careers, or there were other types of counties that were especially likely to serve as springboards to success. For this analysis, we make use of a comprehensive longitudinal database of personnel records that we have constructed from a roster of all civil servants (the Jinshenlu) that was published on a quarterly basis during the Qing dynasty. As of July 2018, this database, the China Government Employee Database-Qing (CGED-Q), comprises 2.8 million records, including 193,476 records of 27,764 officials who started their careers as county magistrates.