Human capital in Qing China: economic determinism or a history of failed opportunities?
The traditional education system in Qing China has been widely debated over the past decades. Some have argued it was efficient and furthered economic growth, while others have stressed its inefficient nature, which led to the introduction of the modern education system in the closing decades of the 19th century, followed by its total collapse in 1905. In this paper we make a first try to quantify above debate. Starting from the observation that below the well-known civil examination system there existed a whole system of popular and vocational education, we find that years of education in the population were still lower than in many European countries. More interestingly, whereas in European countries years of education increased strongly in the 19th century, our estimates of average years of education and the ABCC indices show that the level of education remained stable well into the 1920s when it accelerated. However, the main rise only occurred during the late 20th century. This finding leads to an interesting question since per capita income only started to grow significantly since the 1950s. This means that the rise of education since the mid-1920s was not as such driven by per capita income. Apparently this was the same for both the traditional and modern education since the latter had already started to transform Chinese education from the 1890s onwards. Hence, we have to look at the question why persons decided to follow education, i.e. was it individually profitable to follow education (positive private returns)? However, testing for this latter hypothesis shows that, after correction for foregone earnings, life expectancy, and probability of passing the exams, only the below shengyuan level students actually had positive returns. For an ordinary person it was therefore uneconomical to join in the civil examination system. Apparently this did not change, not even after the introduction of the modern education system, until the 1950s.
|Date of creation:||02 Jan 2013|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Bas van Leeuwen & Peter Földvári, 2013.
"Capital Accumulation and Growth in Central Europe, 1920-2006,"
Eastern European Economics,
M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 51(5), pages 69-93, September.
- Bas van Leeuwen & Peter Földvari, 2011. "Capital accumulation and growth in Central Europe, 1920-2006," Working Papers 0023, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
- Paul M Romer, 1999.
"Endogenous Technological Change,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
2135, David K. Levine.
- Joerg Baten & Jan Zanden, 2008.
"Book production and the onset of modern economic growth,"
Journal of Economic Growth,
Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 217-235, September.
- Jörg Baten & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2007. "Book production and the onset of modern economic growth," Economics Working Papers 1030, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
- Debin Ma, 2004. "Growth, institutions and knowledge: a review and reflection on the historiography of 18th-20th century China," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 44(3), pages 259-277, November.
- Van Leeuwen, Bas & van Leeuwen-Li, Jieli & Foldvari, Peter, 2011. "Regional human capital in Republican and New China: Its spread, quality and effects on economic growth," MPRA Paper 43582, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2000.
"When Did Globalization Begin?,"
NBER Working Papers
7632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
- van Zanden, Jan Luiten & van Leeuwen, Bas, 2012. "Persistent but not consistent: The growth of national income in Holland 1347–1807," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 119-130.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:43525. 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: (Ekkehart Schlicht)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.