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Evolution of living standards and human capital in China in 18-20th century: evidences from real wage and anthropometrics

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

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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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27870/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 27870.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:27870

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Postal: LSE, Dept. of Economic History Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE, U.K.
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7955 7084
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/
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  1. Brian A'Hearn & Jörg Baten & Dorothee Crayen, 2006. "Quantifying quantitative literacy: Age heaping and the history of human capital," Economics Working Papers 996, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, 09.
  3. Fogel, Robert W, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 369-95, June.
  4. Morgan, Stephen L., 2004. "Economic growth and the biological standard of living in China, 1880-1930," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 197-218, June.
  5. Bassino, Jean-Pascal, 2006. "Inequality in Japan (1892-1941): Physical stature, income, and health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 62-88, January.
  6. Kyoji Fukao & Debin Ma & Tangjun Yuan, 2006. "Real GDP in Pre-War East Asia: A 1934-36 Benchmark Purchasing Power Parity Comparison with the U.S," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d05-132, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  7. Kaoru Sugihara, 2007. "The Second Noel Butlin Lecture: Labour-Intensive Industrialisation In Global History," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 47(2), pages 121-154, 07.
  8. Duncan-Jones,Richard, 1990. "Structure and Scale in the Roman Economy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521354776, November.
  9. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
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