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Involution or Industrialization: Reinterpreting the 19-20th Century Chinese Agriculture through the Perspectives of Seasonality Involution or Industrialization: Reinterpreting the 19-20th Century Chinese Agriculture through the Perspectives of Seasonality

Involution or Industrialization: Reinterpreting the 19-20th Century Chinese Agriculture through the Perspectives of Seasonality

Date: Wednesday, May 26, 2021 09:45 - 11:30 Google Calendar Outlook/Apple Calendar
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Speaker(s): Debin Ma, Osamu Saito, Kenneth Pomeranz, FBA
Language: English
Enquiry: econhist@hku.hk
Quantitative History Webinar Series - Involution or Industrialization: Reinterpreting the 19-20th Century Chinese Agriculture through the Perspectives of Seasonality [Debin Ma, Professor of Economics, Hitotsubashi Institute of Economic Research]
Information

 

Chinese agriculture remains central to our understanding of China’s long-term Chinese economic growth trajectory and the Great Divergence debate. In this Quantitative History Webinar, Debin Ma of Hitotsubashi University revisits the debates of “involution” in the context of incorporating agriculture seasonality. China’s (or East Asian) highly crop-based agricultural economy generates sharply differentiated seasonable demand for agricultural labor across the year and leads to the rise of agricultural and handicraft side-employment and household production. Without taking proper account of this important intertemporal labor re-allocation mechanism, the “involution” thesis often posits a Malthusian diminishing return in Chinese agriculture due to deteriorating land-labor ratio. Debin Ma and his co-author use empirical evidence from 19-20th century Chinese (and Japanese) agriculture to demonstrate that this labor relocation across seasons contributes to a Boserupian type of growth with rising commercialization and population density, but not necessarily urbanization, rising productivity and structural change. However, they argue that ultimately it was industrialization and the opening-up of markets, developments that occurred outside agriculture that pulled China (or Japan) out of the “involutionary” path and took China onto a path of modern economic growth.

Debin's co-author: Kaixiang Peng (Henan University)

Live on Zoom on
May 26, 2021 (Wed) 09:45 Hong Kong/Beijing/Singapore | 10:45 Tokyo | 11:45 Sydney
May 25, 2021 (Tues) 18:45 Los Angeles | 20:45 Chicago | 21:45 New York

With discussants: Kenneth Pomeranz, FBA (Chicago) and Osamu Saito (Hitotsubashi)

This webinar is a joint event with Economic Research Seminar Series hosted by the Institute of Economic Research of Hitotsubashi University.

About the Speaker(s)
Debin Ma

Debin Ma

Professor of Economics, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University
Osamu Saito

Osamu Saito

Emeritus Professor, Hitotsubashi University
Kenneth Pomeranz, FBA

Kenneth Pomeranz, FBA

University Professor in History and the College, The University of Chicago
Event Poster
Quantitative History Webinar Series - Involution or Industrialization: Reinterpreting the 19-20th Century Chinese Agriculture through the Perspectives of Seasonality [Debin Ma, Professor of Economics, Hitotsubashi Institute of Economic Research]
Involution or Industrialization: Reinterpreting the 19-20th Century Chinese Agriculture through the Perspectives of Seasonality
Notes

Photo credit: Permanent agriculture in China, Korea and Japan (1900), Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

About the Quantitative History Webinar Series 
The Quantitative History Webinar Series, convened by Professor Zhiwu Chen and Dr. Chicheng Ma of The University of Hong Kong (HKU), aims to provide researchers, teachers and students with an online intellectual platform to keep up to date with the latest research in the field, promoting the dissemination of research findings and interdisciplinary use of quantitative methods in historical research. The Series is co-organized by the International Society for Quantitative History, HKU Business School, and the Asia Global Institute (AGI).

Conveners:
Professor Zhiwu Chen
Dr. Chicheng Ma 

To return to the Series page, click here.


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