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Urbanization in China, ca. 1100–1900

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  • XuYi
  • Bas van Leeuwen
  • Jan Luiten van Zanden

Abstract

This paper presents new estimates of the development of the urban population andthe urbanization ratio for the period spanning the Song and late Qing dynasties. Urbanizationis viewed, as in much of the economic historical literature on the topic, as an indirectindicator of economic development and structural change. The development of the urbansystem can therefore tell us a lot about long-term trends in the Chinese economy between1100 and 1900. During the Song the level of urbanization was high, also by internationalstandards – the capital cities of the Song were probably the largest cities in the world. This remained so until the late Ming, but during the Qing there was a downward trend in the levelof urbanization from 11–12% to 7% in the late 18th century, a level at which it remained untilthe early 1900s. In our paper we analyse the role that socio–political and economic causesplayed in this decline, such as the changing character of the Chinese state, the limited impactof overseas trade on the urban system, and the apparent absence of the dynamic economiceffects that were characteristic for the European urban system.

Suggested Citation

  • XuYi & Bas van Leeuwen & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2015. "Urbanization in China, ca. 1100–1900," Working Papers 0063, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0063
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    File URL: http://www.cgeh.nl/sites/default/files/WorkingPapers/CGEHWP63XuyiVanLeeuwenVanZanden.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:bla:ozechr:v:57:y:2017:i:3:p:368-393 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Stephanie Balters & Martin Steinert, 0. "Capturing emotion reactivity through physiology measurement as a foundation for affective engineering in engineering design science and engineering practices," Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-23.
    3. Yi Xu & Zhihong Shi & Bas Leeuwen & Yuping Ni & Zipeng Zhang & Ye Ma, 2017. "Chinese National Income, ca. 1661–1933," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 57(3), pages 368-393, November.
    4. Mitchener, Kris James & Ma, Debin, 2016. "Introduction to the special issue: a new economic history of China," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 69191, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Jedwab, Remi & Vollrath, Dietrich, 2015. "Urbanization without growth in historical perspective," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 1-21.
    6. 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.

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    Keywords

    China; Urbanization; Song Dynasty; Ming dynasty; Qing dynasty; cities; commercialization.;

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