Population Dynamics in Pre-Modern China

Zhongwei Zhao

in Chinese Studies

ISBN: 9780199920082
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
Population Dynamics in Pre-Modern China

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  • East Asian Studies
  • Asian History
  • East Asian Philosophy
  • East Asian Religions


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China constituted one of the earliest civilizations in the world. During most of the past two millennia, China was also one of the most advanced economies and the home of around a quarter of the world’s population. By the start of the first millennium, the Chinese population was already about sixty million. In the next two thousand years, China’s population growth and economic development significantly influenced the world’s population changes and history. Partly for these reasons, in the study of population and social history, China’s historical population growth, demographic regimes, marriage patterns, and household formation systems are frequently used as examples in the discussion of population changes, microsocial structure, and their relationships with natural resources and economic development in past times. Population changes were one of the key components of Chinese history. The size and density of the population, the rise and fall of fertility and mortality, and the increase and decrease of population movements were not only related to demographic factors such as age structure. They were also strongly affected by political and economic conditions, social institutions and cultural traditions, and natural and social environments. Therefore, studies of demographic history, those conducted recently in particular, often shed new light on economic, political, social, and environmental changes in the past. This bibliography, through reviewing major works published in Chinese and English, provides an introduction to China’s main historical population data sources, major research questions, and debates in the study of Chinese population history. It also introduces recent advances in Chinese historical demography and important research findings made by these developments.

Article.  13075 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Studies ; Asian History ; East Asian Philosophy ; East Asian Religions

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