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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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  • 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, 2009. "Evolution of living standards and human capital in China in 18-20th century: evidences from real wage and anthropometrics," Economic History Working Papers 27870, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:27870
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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