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China’s Long-Term Economic Development

How Have Economy and Governance Evolved since 500 BC?

Hongjun Zhao

This book examines the evolution of Chinese governmental governance and its long-lasting impact on Chinese economic development, firstly by examining the formation of Chinese style governance, the core contents of this governance and its vitality compared to other governance patterns in Chinese history. Secondly, this book discusses the effectiveness of this governance in supporting economic development before the Song dynasty and its failure in serving economic development during the past three to five centuries. Ultimately, Hongjun Zhao predicts the direction Chinese governance will take in the next 20 years.
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Chapter 3: The behavior of the peasants and their households: the logical starting point for the study of the puzzle in Chinese economic history

Hongjun Zhao


This chapter analyses the behavior of peasants and their households in Chinese history. It critically reviews the theory of the imbalanced ratio of population and land and discusses China’s long-term economic development from a macro perspective. The author analyses the various constraints faced by Chinese peasants and their families and uses a simple model to explain the production choice of peasant families. Evidence about the income and expenditure of representative peasant households in China’s major dynasties is then provided followed by a case study about a machine handicraft factory replaced by a Chinese traditional cotton textile handicraft workshop.

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