IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/bla/ehsrev/v62y2009i3p525-550.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Agricultural productivity and rural incomes in England and the Yangtze Delta, c.1620–c.18201

Author

Listed:
  • ROBERT C. ALLEN

Abstract

The productivity of agriculture in England and the Yangtze Delta are compared c.1620 and c.1820 in order to gauge the performance of the most advanced part of China vis‐à‐vis its counterpart in Europe. The value of real output is compared using purchasing power parity exchange rates. Output per hectare was nine times greater in the Yangtze Delta than in England. More surprisingly, output per day worked was about 90 per cent of the English performance. This put Yangtze farmers slightly behind English and Dutch farmers c.1820, but ahead of most other farmers in Europe—an impressive achievement. There was little change in Yangtze agricultural productivity between 1620 and 1820. In 1820, the real income of a Yangtze peasant family was also about the same as that of an English agricultural labourer. All was not rosy in the Yangtze, however, for incomes there were on a downward trajectory. Agriculture income per family declined between 1620 and 1820, even though income per day worked changed little since population growth led to smaller farms and fewer days worked per year. The real earnings of women in textile production also declined, since the relative price of cotton cloth dropped—possibly also because a larger population led to greater production. The implication is that the Yangtze family, unlike the English family, had a considerably higher real income c.1620, and that period was the Delta's golden age.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert C. Allen, 2009. "Agricultural productivity and rural incomes in England and the Yangtze Delta, c.1620–c.18201," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 62(3), pages 525-550, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:62:y:2009:i:3:p:525-550
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2008.00443.x
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0289.2008.00443.x
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. C. Knick Harley, 1998. "Cotton Textile Prices and the Industrial Revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 51(1), pages 49-83, February.
    2. Robert Summers & Alan Heston, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950–1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-368.
    3. Horrell, Sara, 1996. "Home Demand and British Industrialization," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(3), pages 561-604, September.
    4. Prados de la Escosura, Leandro, 2000. "International Comparisons of Real Product, 1820-1990: An Alternative Data Set," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-41, January.
    5. Horrell, Sara & Humphries, Jane, 1992. "Old Questions, New Data, and Alternative Perspectives: Families' Living Standards in the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(4), pages 849-880, December.
    6. Giovanni Federico & Paolo Malanima, 2004. "Progress, decline, growth: product and productivity in Italian agriculture, 1000-2000," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 57(3), pages 437-464, August.
    7. Allen, Robert C., 2000. "Economic structure and agricultural productivity in Europe, 1300–1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 1-25, April.
    8. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Studer, Roman, 2008. "India and the Great Divergence: Assessing the Efficiency of Grain Markets in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century India," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 393-437, June.
    2. Klaus Desmet & Stephen Parente, 2012. "The evolution of markets and the revolution of industry: a unified theory of growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 205-234, September.
    3. Nico Voigtl?nder & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2013. "How the West "Invented" Fertility Restriction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2227-2264, October.
    4. Kunting Chen, 2012. "Analysis of the Great Divergence under a Unified Endogenous Growth Model," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 13(2), pages 317-353, November.
    5. Dietrich Vollrath, 2011. "The agricultural basis of comparative development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 343-370, December.
    6. Stephen Broadberry & Hanhui Guan & David Daokui Li, 2017. "China, Europe and the Great Divergence: A Study in Historical National Accounting, 980-1850," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _155, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    7. Izdebski, Adam & Koloch, Grzegorz & Słoczyński, Tymon & Tycner, Marta, 2016. "On the use of palynological data in economic history: New methods and an application to agricultural output in Central Europe, 0–2000AD," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 17-39.
    8. Hans-Joachim Voth, 2013. "The Three Horsemen of Riches: Plague, War, and Urbanization in Early Modern Europe," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(2), pages 774-811.
    9. Carlos Santiago-Caballero, 2012. "Breaking with natural constraints: provincial grain yields in Spain 1750-2009," Working Papers 12015, Economic History Society.
    10. Jesús Gonzalo & Jean-Yves Pitarakis, 2013. "Estimation and inference in threshold type regime switching models," Chapters, in: Nigar Hashimzade & Michael A. Thornton (ed.), Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Empirical Macroeconomics, chapter 8, pages 189-205, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Voigtländer, Nico & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2009. "The Three Horsemen of Growth: Plague, War and Urbanization in Early Modern Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 7275, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Li, Bozhong & van Zanden, Jan Luiten, 2012. "Before the Great Divergence? Comparing the Yangzi Delta and the Netherlands at the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(4), pages 956-989, December.
    13. Deng, Kent & O'Brien, Patrick, 2014. "Clarifying data for reciprocal comparisons of nutritional standards of living in England and the Yangtze Delta (Jiangnan), c.1644 – c.1840," Economic History Working Papers 59303, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:62:y:2009:i:3:p:525-550. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley Content Delivery). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/ehsukea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.