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Evolution of living standards and human capital in China in the 18-20th centuries: Evidences from real wages, age-heaping, and anthropometrics

By Joerg Baten, Debin Ma, Stephen Morgan and Qing Wang

Abstract

This article mobilizes and integrates both existing and new time series data on real wages, physical heights and age-heaping to examine the long-term trend of living standards and human capital for China during the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. Our findings confirm the existence of a substantial gap in living standards between China and North-western Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They also reveal a sustained decline in living standards and human capital at least in South China from the mid-nineteenth century followed by a recovery in the early twentieth century. However, comparative examination of age-heaping data shows that the level of Chinese human capital was relatively high by world standard during this period. We make a preliminary exploration of the historical implication of our findings

Topics: DS Asia
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.eeh.2009.09.003
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:28525
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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