Long-term changes in late imperial China’s real wages and GDP per capita, 1000-1900: an reexamination and reassessment

Guanglin, William LIU, Kaixiang PENG, Dwight H. PERKINS

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsConference Paper (other)Other Conference Paperpeer-review


Scholars across the globe have debated on the living standard of Chinese people in comparison to Europeans before the Industrial Revolution. The debate shows a wide range of differences among scholars in measuring pre-industrial economic growth in China. Finding new quantitative evidence is extremely important to solve this problem. In this paper, we aim to give a thorough examination of the extant primary sources and provide some important real wage data that will provide new insights on long-term changes in the living standard of some areas in China from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. First, we use price and wage data drawn from Ming shilu, a compilation of the administrative records by the Ming dynasty government (1368-1644). Second, we find in the preserved historical documents at Huizhou, south of the Yangtze River and close to Jiangnan, a rich collection of merchant ledgers with wages and commodity prices that covered...
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventXVIII World Economic History Congress: Waves of Globalization - MIT, Boston, United States
Duration: 29 Jul 20183 Aug 2018


ConferenceXVIII World Economic History Congress
Abbreviated titleWEHC BOSTON 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Panel : Real Wages across the Globe: From Antiquity to the Present


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