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Books > History > Asia > China > 0674007093
  1. One Quarter of Humanity: Malthusian Mythology and Chinese Realities, 1700-2000
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  2. One Quarter of Humanity: Malthusian Mythology and Chinese Realities, 1700-2000

    Delivery: 10-20 Working Days
    Customer Ratings (2 reviews)
    Price R782.00

Additional Information

This book presents evidence about historical and contemporary Chinese population behavior that overturns much of the received wisdom about the differences between China and the West first voiced by Malthus. Malthus described a China in which early and universal marriage ensured high fertility and therefore high mortality. He contrasted this with Western Europe, where marriage occurred late and was far from universal, resulting in lower fertility and higher demographic responsiveness to economic circumstances. The result in China was thought to be mass misery as part of the population teetered on the brink of a Malthusian precipice, whereas in the West conditions were less severe.

In reality, James Lee and Wang Feng argue, there has been effective regulation of population growth in China through a variety of practices that depressed marital fertility to levels far below European standards, and through the widespread practices of infanticide and abortion. Moreover, in China, population behavior has long been primarily a consequence of collective intervention. This collective culture underlies four distinctive features of the Chinese demographic pattern--high rates of female infanticide, low rates of male marriage, low rates of marital fertility, and high rates of adoption--that Lee and Wang trace from 1700 to today. These and other distinctive features of the Chinese demographic and social system, they argue, led to a different demographic transition in China from the one that took place in the West.

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Brand: Harvard University Press
Revised ed.
Used Book in Good Condition
Harvard University Press
Harvard University Press
29 line illustrations, 1 map, 16 tables
29 line illustrations, 1 map, 16 tables
Harvard University Press
Harvard University Press
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Very honest portrayal of China's massive population.
This short and well written book is a summary of Chinese historical demography from around 1700 to 2000. The authors are particularly concerned with rebutting a naive Malthusian view of Chinese society as governed by unlimited fertility checked only by subsistence crises. As the authors point out also, Malthus' actual analysis was more sophisticated than this simplified version but the naive view has been endorsed by quite a few subsequent scholars. Lee and Wang argue for complex and distinctive Chinese regulation of demographic variables. Embedded within a deeply patriarchal and patrilineal culture, Lee and Wang suggest that poor and elite Chinese families used a combination of female infanticide (and its corollary, favoring male older children), practices that promoted relatively low marital fertility, and production of a relatively high rate of non-reproducing males. These complex and interacting practices, combined with other features such as fictive kinship that allowed... Read more
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