Feeding the People: Grain Yields and Agricultural Expansion in Qing China

26 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2018 Last revised: 11 Jan 2019

See all articles by Liam Brunt

Liam Brunt

NHH - Norwegian School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Antonio Fidalgo

Fresenius University of Applied Sciences

Date Written: December 13, 2018

Abstract

We use modern econometric methods to analyze a recently-released sample of 3 000 Chinese grain yields. We find significant variation across provinces and persistent increases in yields over time – albeit slow compared to Europe and the New World. Growth rates for rice (the primary southern crop) and dry land crops (the primary northern crops) were similar. We show that provinces were more extensively farmed when yields and population pressure were high, and that extending production put downward pressure on yields. Overall, Chinese farmers avoided the problem of agricultural involution by efficiently boosting output at the extensive margin, not the intensive margin.

Keywords: agricultural involution, productivity, growth.

JEL Classification: N55, O13, O47.

Suggested Citation

Brunt, Liam and Fidalgo, Antonio, Feeding the People: Grain Yields and Agricultural Expansion in Qing China (December 13, 2018). NHH Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3300751 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3300751

Liam Brunt (Contact Author)

NHH - Norwegian School of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen, Hordaland
Norway

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Antonio Fidalgo

Fresenius University of Applied Sciences ( email )

Germany

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