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Why Didn’t China’s Boom Begin in the 1870s Rather Than in the 1970s? (Tue, 27 Nov 2012)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
12:00 AM
Room 1636 School of Social Work Building

Thomas G. Rawski Professor of Economics and History University of Pittsburgh

Historians ranging from Albert Feuerwerker to Kenneth Pomeranz have labored to explain China’s limited economic success. Recent developments require a shift of perspective. New research highlights the contribution of beneficial human capital legacies to the genesis and progression of China’s ongoing economic boom. While the spread of education after 1949 is part of the story, vast resources of entrepreneurship and organizational capabilities revealed by the boom reflect deep historical roots. But if Qing China was well stocked with economically-relevant human capital, what accounts for limited economic progress under China’s late 19th-century regime of free trade, domestic market economy, substantial influx of technology, and modest reform efforts?

Thomas G. Rawski is Professor of Economics and History at the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on the development and modern history of China’s economy, including studies of China’s reform mechanism and achievements, as well as analyses focused on productivity, investment, industry, trade, labor markets, environment, and economic measurement. His publications include books on Economic Growth and Employment in China; Chinese History in Economic Perspective; Economic Growth in Prewar China; China’s Transition to Industrialization; and Economics and the Historian. He is co-editor of recent volumes on China’s Rise and the Balance of Influence in Asia (2007) and China’s Great Economic Transformation (2008).