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Discovering Chinese Economic History from Footnotes: the Living Tale of a Private Merchant Archive (1800-1850)

  • Ma, Debin

    (London School of Economics)

  • Yuan, Weipeng

    (Chinese Academy of Social Science, Beijing)

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    This article recounts our unique encounter –through the last seven years of our research - with the Tong Taisheng (统泰升) merchant account books in the Ninjing county of Northern China in 1800-1850. By tracing the personal history of the original owner or donor, we address a large historiographical and epistemological issue behind the current Great Divergence debate on why Industrial Revolution occurred in England but not in China. Our article showcases how the development of political ideology and academic discipline in the modern era impacts our understanding of historical statistics and realities of the early modern era, a critical issue largely neglected in the current Great Divergence debate.

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    File URL: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/research/wpfeed/164-2013_debin_ma.pdf
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    Paper provided by Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) in its series CAGE Online Working Paper Series with number 164.

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    Date of creation: 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:164
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    1. Debin Ma, 2008. "Economic growth in the Lower Yangzi region of China in 1911–1937: a quantitative and historical analysis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 32398, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Ma, Debin, 2008. "Economic Growth in the Lower Yangzi Region of China in 1911–1937: A Quantitative and Historical Analysis," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(02), pages 355-392, June.
    3. Ho, Jun Seong & Lewis, James B. & Han-Rog, Kang, 2008. "Korean Expansion and Decline from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Century: A View Suggested by Adam Smith," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(01), pages 244-282, March.
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