Chapter

Standards of Living in Eighteenth-Century China: Regional Differences, Temporal Trends, and Incomplete Evidence

Kenneth Pomeranz

in Living Standards in the Past

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199280681
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602467 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199280681.003.0002
 Standards of Living in Eighteenth-Century China: Regional Differences, Temporal Trends, and Incomplete Evidence

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Attempts to reconstruct basic aspects of the standard of living in late eighteenth century China, focusing primarily on the Yangzi Delta (China’s richest region) but also briefly considering other areas, and arguing that for most of the population it was probably broadly comparable to Western Europe at the same time. Food supply is evaluated in terms of average availability of calories and protection from fluctuations; protein intake is also discussed, though more speculatively. Income distribution and evidence concerning consumption of textiles, sugar, tea, and so on are also considered. Since the estimates in this study in many cases are higher than what was found in early twentieth-century surveys, the chapter also explains why it is plausible to think that the standard of living may have declined between the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Keywords: calories; China; Food supply; Income distribution; protein; standard of living; subsistence security; textiles; Yangzi Delta

Chapter.  17472 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic History

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