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3 - Agriculture

from Part I - 1800–1950

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 February 2022

Debin Ma
Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo
Richard von Glahn
University of California, Los Angeles
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For over two millennia, China has sustained the largest single human society on the planet through the development of one of the most sophisticated agrarian systems in history. Even until quite recent, agriculture occupied a central place in the Chinese economy, commanding a dominant 60 to 70 percent of the total economy throughout. Agricultural institutions define the Chinese economic system and agricultural production drove long-run economic change or growth in China. Agriculture was at the center of the Great Divergence debate. Agricultural harvest or failures sometimes spelled the rise and fall of dynasties throughout history. Moving to the modern era, Chinese agriculture became the scapegoat for China’s modernization failure and was regarded as the incubator for Communist revolution. However, given its overriding importance, research on modern Chinese agriculture has been surprisingly understudied for the last few decades.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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Further Reading

Brandt, L., and Sands, B., “Beyond Malthus and Ricardo: Economic Growth, Land Concentration, and Income Distribution in Early Twentieth-Century China,” Journal of Economic History 50 (December 1990), pp. 807–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Xingsui, Cao 曹幸穗 and Siming, Wang 王思明 (eds.), 中国农业通史: 近代卷 (General History of Chinese Agriculture: Modern Times) (Beijing, Zhongguo nongye chubanshe, 2020).Google Scholar
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Kaixiang, Peng 彭凯翔, 清代以来的粮价: 历史学的解释与再解释 (The Rice Price since the Qing Dynasty: A Historical Interpretation and Reinterpretation) (Shanghai, Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 2006), pp. 3241.Google Scholar
Kaixiang, Peng 彭凯翔, “人口增长下的粮食生产与经济发展—由史志宏研究员的清代农业产出测算谈起” (Grain Production and Development under the Growth of Population: A Discussion from Shi Zhihong’s Estimation about Agricultural Production in the Qing Dynasty), 中国经济史研究 (Research in Chinese Economic History) 7 (2015), 3849.Google Scholar
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