Real Wages and Skill Premia in China, 1858-1936

47 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2011

See all articles by Se Yan

Se Yan

Peking University - Guanghua School of Management

Date Written: March 14, 2011

Abstract

What happens to wage inequality when a country begins to trade and industrialize? I construct new wage series for China from 1858 to 1936. I collect the nominal wages from the records of the China Maritime Customs, and estimate real wages for unskilled and skilled workers using new group-specific cost of living indices. I find that unskilled real wages were stagnant, but skilled wages rose rapidly before 1920 and fell thereafter. My findings suggest that technological advances increased skill demand, driving up the skill premium. Educational progress eventually increased the supply of skilled workers, thereby reducing the skilled wage.

Keywords: Wage, Inequality, Skill Premium, Education, International Trade, China

JEL Classification: I20, O15, E24, J31, N35, N75

Suggested Citation

Yan, Se, Real Wages and Skill Premia in China, 1858-1936 (March 14, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1785230 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1785230

Se Yan (Contact Author)

Peking University - Guanghua School of Management ( email )

Peking University
Beijing, Beijing 100871
China

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
117
Abstract Views
866
rank
237,558
PlumX Metrics