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Back to the 'normal' level of human-capital driven growth? A note on early numeracy in Korea, China and Japan, 1550 - 1800

  • Baten, Joerg
  • Sohn, Kitae

This paper draws on a unique data set, hojok (household registers), to estimate numeracy levels in Korea, 1550-1630, and evidence on Japan and China from the early modern period until 1800. We found that a substantial share of East Asians rounded their ages to multiples of five. However, the extent of age-heaping was quite low by global standards, even considering the potential sources of upward bias inherent in the data. Therefore, the unusually high level of numeracy in East Asia in the early 21st century was already present in the early modern period. The findings imply that in the Korean case, for example, the foundations of the human-capital based catch-up growth were laid very early. More broadly, we argue that Korea, Japan, and China returned to the growth-path at different points of the 20th century, and this return was pre-determined by their early numeracy development.

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Paper provided by University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences in its series University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance with number 52.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuewef:52
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  1. 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.
  2. Amsden, Alice H., 1992. "Asia's Next Giant: South Korea and Late Industrialization," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195076035, March.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," NBER Working Papers 10568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Dorothee Crayen & Joerg Baten, 2010. "New evidence and new methods to measure human capital inequality before and during the industrial revolution: France and the US in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(2), pages 452-478, 05.
  5. Jörg Baten & Dorothee Crayen, 2008. "Global Trends in Numeracy 1820-1949 and its Implications for Long-Run Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 2218, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521354776 is not listed on IDEAS
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