The Chinese Market Economy, 1000–1500

By William Guanglin Liu

Subjects: Asian Studies, Chinese Studies, History, Economic History, Political Economy
Paperback : 9781438455686, 394 pages, July 2016
Hardcover : 9781438455679, 394 pages, September 2015

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Dynasties, Events, and Equivalents
Part I. The Market Economy in Late Imperial China
1. Issues and Approaches
2. The Nature of Song and Ming Economic Data
Part II. The Song Era
3. How Large Was the Money Economy?
4. Trade and Water Transport in the Eleventh Century
Part III. The Ming Era
5. China after 1200: Crisis and Disintegration
6. Prices, Real Wages, and National Incomes
Part IV. Agriculture
7. Agricultural Development of the Lower Yangtze
8. Changes in Agricultural Productivity, 1000–1600
A General Guide to Chinese Economic Data Sources in the Song and Ming Eras
Appendix A. Chinese Population Data
Appendix B. Long-Term Changes in Prices and the Money Stock
Appendix C. Waterway Networks in the Eleventh Century
Appendix D. Chinese Acreage, 900–1600
Appendix E. Long-Term Changes in Real Wages
Appendix F. Estimates of National Incomes
Appendix G. Major Commodities in the Domestic Market
Appendix H. Military Farms, Involuntary migrations, and Extensive Agriculture

Documents the rise and fall of a market economy in China from 1000-1500.


Since the economic liberalization of the 1980s, the Chinese economy has boomed and is poised to become the world's largest market economy, a position traditional China held a millennium ago. William Guanglin Liu's bold and fascinating book is the first to rely on quantitative methods to investigate the early market economy that existed in China, making use of rare market and population data produced by the Song dynasty in the eleventh century. A counterexample comes from the century around 1400 when the early Ming court deliberately turned agrarian society into a command economy system. This radical change not only shrank markets, but also caused a sharp decline in the living standards of common people. Liu's landmark study of the rise and fall of a market economy highlights important issues for contemporary China at both the empirical and theoretical levels.

William Guanglin Liu is Associate Professor of History at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.


"…a valuable book on a big, important, topic: the general trajectory of the Chinese economy from roughly 1000–1650 … The research is excellent, and the author comes up with some original and inventive ways to use his data." — EH.Net