Affordable Access

Fact or fiction? Re-examination of Chinese premodern population statistics

Authors
Publisher
Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science
Publication Date
Keywords
  • Hc Economic History And Conditions
  • Hg Finance
  • D204 Modern History
  • Ds Asia
  • Ha Statistics
  • Hm Sociology
Disciplines
  • Economics

Abstract

Fact or Fiction Working Paper No. 76/03 Fact or Fiction? Re-examination of Chinese Premodern Population Statistics Kent G. Deng © Kent G. Deng Department of Economic History London School of Economics July 2003 Department of Economic History London School of Economics Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 6163 Fax: +44 (0)20 7955 7730 Fact or Fiction? Re-examination of Chinese Premodern Population Statistics * Kent G. Deng A. The Issue and problems 1. The Issue Despite the kind of scholarly attention that has been attracted in the field of Chinese economic history in the past half a century or so, basic quantities of some basic factors have remained disagreed. Chinese population is one of them. For example, for the post-1350 period, the gap between China’s own record and contemporary estimates can be as great as 200 million souls. To make the situation worse, since the late 1960s, estimation and guesstimation have gradually taken over while the Chinese official censuses have been systematically thrown away almost completely. As a result, the picture of Chinese population during the premodern period has been messy with opinions divided widely (see Figure 1). No one can be truly sure of China’s population size despite the fact that population is commonly regarded as one of the key economic factors in an economy. The problems here are neither simple nor trivial. There are several problems here. The first one is conceptual. Scholars have a tendency, either implicitly or explicitly, to linearise population growth as much as possible. In his article entitled ‘The Population Statistics of China, A.D. 2– 1953’ (1960), John Durand artificially chose some two dozens

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.