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Estimating Chinese Gdp Per Capita In Thee Ighteenth Century

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Chapter Summary

One way to approach the problem with making more direct comparisons between China and Europe is to try to fit China (or parts of China) in a model used for estimating gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in pre-industrial Europe, which took data on the structure of the labour force and the level of real wages to estimate the level and development of GDP per capita from 1500 to 1800. The problem with making more direct comparisons between China and Europe using the established method of estimating income levels and PPPs is the scarcity of price information on China. One way to circumvent this is to use rice as a standard for comparison. Per capita GDP in Java from 1815 to 1835 was on average the equivalent of 490 kg of rice, which gives an indication of the large gap between ?underdeveloped" Java and the ?developed" Yangtze Delta.

Keywords: China; gross domestic product (GDP) per capita; pre-industrial Europe



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