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Wages, prices, and living standards in China, 1738-1925: in comparison with Europe, Japan, and India

  • Allen, Robert C.
  • Bassino, Jean-Pascal
  • Ma, Debin
  • Moll-Murata, Christine
  • Zanden, Jan Luiten van

The paper develops data on the history of wages and prices in Beijing, Canton, Suzhou/Shanghai in China from the eighteenth century to the twentieth and compare them with leading cities in Europe, Japan and India in terms of nominal wages, the cost of living, and the standard of living. In the eighteenth century, the real income of building workers in Asia was similar to that of workers in the backward parts of Europe but far behind that in the leading economies in northwestern Europe. Real wages declined in China in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and rose slowly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth with little cumulative change for two hundred years. The income disparities of the early twentieth century were due to long run stagnation in China combined with industrialization in Japan and Europe.

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File URL: http://hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/rs/bitstream/10086/17751/1/wp2009-3a.pdf
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Paper provided by Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University in its series CEI Working Paper Series with number 2009-03.

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Length: 60 p.
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hit:hitcei:2009-03
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  1. Van Zanden, Jan Luiten, 2009. "The skill premium and the ‘Great Divergence’," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(01), pages 121-153, April.
  2. Feuerwerker, Albert, 1970. "Handicraft and Manufactured Cotton Textiles in China, 1871–1910," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(02), pages 338-378, June.
  3. repec:cup:jechis:v:60:y:2000:i:03:p:665-699_00 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. "Bassino, Jean‐Pascal" & "Ma, Debin" & "Saito, Osamu", 2005. "Levels of Real Wages in Historic China, Japan and Southern Europe, 1700-1920―A Review of Evidence―," Economic Review, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 56(4), pages 348-369, January.
  5. Diewert, W. E., 1976. "Exact and superlative index numbers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 115-145, May.
  6. zmucur, S leyman & Pamuk, Sevket, 2002. "Real Wages And Standards Of Living In The Ottoman Empire, 1489 1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 293-321, June.
  7. van Zanden, Jan L., 1999. "Wages and the standard of living in Europe, 1500 1800," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 175-197, August.
  8. Li, Lillian M., 2000. "Integration and Disintegration in North China's Grain Markets, 1738–1911," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 665-699, September.
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