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Frontiers of Economics in China

ISSN 1673-3444

ISSN 1673-3568(Online)

CN 11-5744/F

Postal Subscription Code 80-978

Front. Econ. China    2007, Vol. 2 Issue (4) : 558-593    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11459-007-0029-6
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Involution or pursuit of profit? —A reassessment of Chinese sericulture during the 1840s–1940s
ZHANG Li
Institute of Economics, School of Economics, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China;
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Abstract With new data and a new methodology, this paper reassesses the forces that led to the rise of Chinese sericulture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The study challenges the prevailing view that Chinese peasants switched to sericulture in order to gain a higher aggregate family income at the cost of a lower net income per workday. Based on a case study of Wuxi, the research indicates that until the late 1920s, sericulture had provided peasants not only higher aggregate income, but also higher returns on labor. Peasants were more pulled by higher profit than by high population pressure to switch to sericulture.
Issue Date: 05 December 2007
 Cite this article:   
ZHANG Li. Involution or pursuit of profit? —A reassessment of Chinese sericulture during the 1840s–1940s[J]. Front. Econ. China, 2007, 2(4): 558-593.
 URL:  
http://academic.hep.com.cn/fec/EN/10.1007/s11459-007-0029-6
http://academic.hep.com.cn/fec/EN/Y2007/V2/I4/558
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