IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/exehis/v47y2010i3p347-359.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

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

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Baten, Joerg & Ma, Debin & Morgan, Stephen & Wang, Qing, 2010. "Evolution of living standards and human capital in China in the 18-20th centuries: Evidences from real wages, age-heaping, and anthropometrics," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 347-359, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:47:y:2010:i:3:p:347-359
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014-4983(09)00050-3
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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, September.
    2. Stephen L. Morgan, 2006. "Australian Immigration Archives As Sources For Business And Economic History," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 46(3), pages 268-282, November.
    3. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 783-808, September.
    4. Olds, Kelly B., 2003. "The biological standard of living in Taiwan under Japanese occupation," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 187-206, June.
    5. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "The Role of Cognitive Skills in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 607-668.
    6. 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 369-395, June.
    7. J. W. Drukker & Vincent Tassenaar, 1997. "Paradoxes of Modernization and Material Well-Being in the Netherlands during the Nineteenth Century," NBER Chapters,in: Health and Welfare during Industrialization, pages 331-378 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Duncan-Jones,Richard, 1990. "Structure and Scale in the Roman Economy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521354776, December.
    9. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
    10. 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, July.
    11. Kyoji Fukao & Debin Ma & Tangjun Yuan, 2007. "Real Gdp In Pre-War East Asia: A 1934-36 Benchmark Purchasing Power Parity Comparison With The U.S," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(3), pages 503-537, September.
    12. Godo, Yoshihisa & Hayami, Yujiro, 2002. "Catching Up in Education in the Economic Catch-Up of Japan with the United States, 1890-1990," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(4), pages 961-978, July.
    13. 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.
    14. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
    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. Broadberry, Stephen N & Guan, Hanhui & Li, David Daokui, 2017. "China, Europe and the great Divergence: A Study in Historical National Accounting, 980-1850," CEPR Discussion Papers 11972, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Tuan-Hwee Sng & Chiaki Moriguchi, 2014. "Asia’s little divergence: state capacity in China and Japan before 1850," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 439-470, December.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Shi Zhihong Yuping & Xuyi & Ni Yuping & Bas van Leeuwen, 2015. "Chinese National Income, ca. 1661-1933," Working Papers 0062, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Baten, Jörg & Sohn, Kitae, 2014. "Impoverished, but Numerate? Early Numeracy in East Asia (1550–1800) and its Impact on 20th and 21st Century Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 9991, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Robert C. Allen, 2015. "The high wage economy and the industrial revolution: a restatement," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(1), pages 1-22, February.
    10. Blum, Matthias & Colvin, Christopher L. & McLaughlin, Eoin, 2017. "Scarring and selection in the Great Irish Famine," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2017-08, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    11. Yuchtman, Noam, 2017. "Teaching to the tests: An economic analysis of traditional and modern education in late imperial and republican China," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 70-90.
    12. Ward, W. Peter, 2013. "Stature, migration and human welfare in South China, 1850–1930," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 488-501.
    13. 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.
    14. MA, Ye & JONG, Herman de, 2016. "Unfolding the Turbulent Century: A Reconstruction of China's Economic Development, 1840-1912," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-29, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.
    15. 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.
    16. Charlotte Le Chapelain, 2013. "Cliométrie et Capital humain," Working Papers 01-13, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC).
    17. Sng, Tuan-Hwee, 2014. "Size and dynastic decline: The principal-agent problem in late imperial China, 1700–1850," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 107-127.
    18. Miller, Melinda, 2016. "Selection and historical height data: Evidence from the 1892 Boas sample of the Cherokee Nation," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 119-123.

    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:eee:exehis:v:47:y:2010:i:3:p:347-359. 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: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830 .

    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.