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Evolution of living standards and human capital in China in the 18-20th centuries: Evidences from real wages, age-heaping, and anthropometrics

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  • Baten, Joerg
  • Ma, Debin
  • Morgan, Stephen
  • Wang, Qing

Abstract

This article mobilizes and integrates both existing and new time series data on real wages, physical heights and age-heaping to examine the long-term trend of living standards and human capital for China during the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. Our findings confirm the existence of a substantial gap in living standards between China and North-western Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They also reveal a sustained decline in living standards and human capital at least in South China from the mid-nineteenth century followed by a recovery in the early twentieth century. However, comparative examination of age-heaping data shows that the level of Chinese human capital was relatively high by world standard during this period. We make a preliminary exploration of the historical implication of our findings.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

Volume (Year): 47 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 347-359

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Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:47:y:2010:i:3:p:347-359

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830

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Keywords: China Standard of living Human capital Real wages Height Numeracy;

References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Izdebski, Adam & Koloch, Grzegorz & Słoczyński, Tymon & Tycner-Wolicka, Marta, 2014. "On the Use of Palynological Data in Economic History: New Methods and an Application to Agricultural Output in Central Europe, 0–2000 AD," MPRA Paper 54582, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Myung Soo Cha, 2012. "Wage Convergence and Divergence in East Asia, 1900-39," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd12-253, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  3. Charlotte Le Chapelain, 2013. "Cliométrie et Capital humain," Working Papers 01-13, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
  4. Juif, Dácil-Tania & Baten, Joerg, 2013. "On the human capital of Inca Indios before and after the Spanish Conquest. Was there a “Pre-Colonial Legacy”?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 227-241.
  5. Robert C. Allen, 2013. "The High Wage Economy and the Industrial Revolution: A Restatement," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _115, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  6. Baten, Joerg & Juif, Dácil, 2014. "A story of large landowners and math skills: Inequality and human capital formation in long-run development, 1820–2000," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 375-401.
  7. Friesen, Julia & Baten, Jörg & Prayon, Valeria, 2012. "Women Count: Gender (in-)equalities in the human capital development in Asia, 1900-60," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 29, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  8. Ward, W. Peter, 2013. "Stature, migration and human welfare in South China, 1850–1930," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 488-501.
  9. Xu, Yi & Foldvari, Peter & Van Leeuwen, Bas, 2013. "Human capital in Qing China: economic determinism or a history of failed opportunities?," MPRA Paper 43525, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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