A critical survey of recent research in Chinese economic history
AbstractChina is a resilient dinosaur. In contrast with so many other great empires in Eurasia – the Egyptian, Roman, Byzantine, Arabian, Ottoman and Tsarist-Soviet – China has the longest history. The Empire kept expanding until the mid-nineteenth century when it practically reached the physical limits for a predominantly agrarian economy. The size and wealth of the Chinese economy, the variety of its produce and the degree of commercialisation and urbanisation made China one of the most popular international trading destinations from Roman times. With the rise of the opium trade in the early nineteenth century, however, the Chinese economy has been severely impoverished at least in relative terms. In response, since the 1870s, the Chinese sought to rescue their civilisation by adopting a wide range of foreign examples in social engineering for social experiments and reforms. Nevertheless, China's per capita GDP is still very low despite its political influence in the world since the 1970s. It is justifiable to view China as a case of growth failure in the recent centuries. The study of Chinese economic history has the same age as China's modern history itself. The field has been led and dominated by the West. Scholarly attempts have been made since the turn of this century to explain China's premodern success and its downfall after the Opium War. Two approaches can be identified: the 'Sinological approach' which refers to China only and the 'comparative method' which compares China with the West. The former tries to find out what achievements China managed to make and when and how it made them and the latter seeks to understand why premodern China was not industrialised.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 638.
Date of creation: Feb 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Economic History Review, February, 2000, 53(1), pp. 1-28. ISSN: 1468-0289
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- N0 - Economic History - - General
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Loren Brandt & Debin Ma & Thomas G. Rawski, 2012.
"From Divergence to Convergence: Re-evaluating the History Behind China's Economic Boom,"
Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series
gd11-217, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
- Loren Brandt & Debin Ma & Thomas G. Rawski, 2014. "From Divergence to Convergence: Reevaluating the History behind China's Economic Boom," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(1), pages 45-123, March.
- Loren Brandt & Debin Ma & Thomas G. Rawski, 2012. "From divergence to convergence: re-evaluating the history behind China’s economic boom," Economic History Working Papers 41660, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
- Brandt, Loren & Ma, Debin & Rawski, Thomas, 2013. "From Divergence to Convergence: Re-evaluating the History Behind China’s Economic Boom," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 117, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
- Loren Brandt & Debin Ma & Thomas G. Rawski, 2013. "From divergence to convergence: re-evaluating the history behind China’s economic boom," Economic History Working Papers 50816, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
- Keith Hoskin & Richard Macve, 2012. "Contesting the indigenous development of “Chinese double-entry bookkeeping” and its significance in China’s economic institutions and business organization before c.1850," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 42583, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lucy Ayre).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.