Why are Northern Chinese so independent and outgoing compared to Southerners? According to US Doctoral Student Thomas Talhelm, it could be due to the regions’ different staples; rice and wheat. Futurity reports:
In Science, Talhelm and his coauthors at universities in China and at the University of Michigan propose that the methods of cooperative rice farming—common to southern China for generations—make the culture in that region interdependent, while people in the wheat-growing north are more individualistic, a reflection of the independent form of farming practiced there over hundreds of years.
He notes that rice farming is extremely labor-intensive, requiring about twice the number of hours from planting to harvest as does wheat. And because most rice is grown on irrigated land, requiring the sharing of water and the building of dikes and canals that constantly require maintenance, rice farmers must work together to develop and maintain an infrastructure upon which all depend. This, Talhelm argues, has led to the interdependent culture in the southern region.
Wheat, on the other hand, is grown on dry land, relying on rain for moisture. Farmers are able to depend more on themselves, leading to more of an independent mindset that permeates northern Chinese culture.