Wages, Prices, and Living Standards in China, 1738-1925: In Comparison with Europe, Japan, and India

31 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2011

See all articles by Robert C. Allen

Robert C. Allen

University of Oxford - Nuffield College; New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi

Jean-Pascal Bassino

Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon; Lyons Institute of East Asian Studies

Debin Ma

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economic History

Christine Moll-Murata

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jan Luiten Van Zanden

Utrecht University

Date Written: January 4, 2011

Abstract

This article develops data on the history of wages and prices in Beijing, Canton, and Suzhou/Shanghai in China from the eighteenth century to the twentieth, and compares them with leading cities in Europe, Japan, and India in terms of nominal wages, the cost of living, and the standard of living. In the eighteenth century, the real income of building workers in Asia was similar to that of workers in the backward parts of Europe but far behind that in the leading economies in north-western Europe. Real wages stagnated in China in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and rose slowly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth, with little cumulative change for 200 years. The income disparities of the early twentieth century were due to long-run stagnation in China combined with industrialization in Japan and Europe.

Suggested Citation

Allen, Robert C. and Bassino, Jean-Pascal and Ma, Debin and Moll-Murata, Christine and Van Zanden, Jan Luiten, Wages, Prices, and Living Standards in China, 1738-1925: In Comparison with Europe, Japan, and India (January 4, 2011). The Economic History Review, Vol. 64, pp. 8-38, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1735242 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0289.2010.00515.x

Robert C. Allen (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Nuffield College ( email )

Oxford
United Kingdom

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

Jean-Pascal Bassino

Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon ( email )

15, parvis Rene Descartes BP 7000
Lyon Cedex 07, 69342
France

Lyons Institute of East Asian Studies ( email )

15 Parvis René Descartes, BP 7000
Lyon, Cedex 69342
France

Debin Ma

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economic History ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Christine Moll-Murata

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Jan Luiten Van Zanden

Utrecht University

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