Transcript: Kenneth Pomerantz on Economic Developmen | Mar 24, 2001

A slate with two Doric columns reads "Kenneth Pomeranz. Department of History, University of California. 'Economy, Ecology and Politics in China and Europe.'"

[applause]

Kenneth Pomeranz stands in front of a projection screen, facing a small group of people in a meeting room. He's in his early forties, clean-shaven, with short curly black hair. He's wearing glasses, a dark gray suit, blue shirt and red checkered tie.

He says THE TALK I WANT TO GIVE
TODAY COMES, CRUDELY
SPEAKING, IN THREE PARTS.
AND THE FIRST PART COMES OUT
OF THE BOOK THAT PROFESSOR
EDDIE MENTIONED,
THE GREAT
DIVERGENCE, IN WHICH
I TRY TO RETHINK EARLY
INDUSTRIALIZATION BASED ON
MY CONVICTION THAT AS LATE
AS THE MID-18th CENTURY
THERE WERE ADVANCED
COMMERCIAL REGIONS IN
VARIOUS PARTS OF THE WORLD.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Kenneth L. Pomeranz. University of California at Irvine. 'Economy, Ecology and Politics in China and Europe."

Kenneth continues THAT WERE ENOUGH LIKE EACH
OTHER THAT THE UNIQUE COURSE
TAKEN BY ONE OF THEM...
NORTHWESTERN EUROPE IN THE
19th CENTURY... REQUIRES
SOME NEW EXPLANATIONS.
THE OTHER CORE REGIONS THAT
I KNOW BEST ARE IN EAST ASIA,
ESPECIALLY CHINA, SO
I'LL SPEND A LOT OF TIME
ON EUROPE-EAST
ASIA COMPARISONS.
THE EUROPEAN EAST ASIAN
COMPARISON IS ALSO WARRANTED
BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE THE
BULK OF THE ECONOMIC ACTION
HAS BEEN FOR MOST OF EARLY
MODERN AND MODERN HISTORY.
BETWEEN, SAY, 1500 AND 1820,
OUR BEST ESTIMATES SUGGEST
THAT THESE TWO AREAS HAD THE
HIGHEST PER CAPITA INCOMES
OF ANY DENSELY POPULATED
REGIONS AND THAT THESE PER
CAPITA INCOMES WERE VERY
CLOSE TO EACH OTHER.
GIVEN THE FAR GREATER
DEMOGRAPHIC WEIGHT OF
EAST ASIA, THAT MEANT THAT ITS
SO-CALLED MIRACLE OF VASTLY
INCREASED POPULATION AND
MODEST PER CAPITA GROWTH
IN THIS PERIOD ACTUALLY
ACCOUNTED FOR THE BULK OF
GROWTH IN GROSS WORLD
PRODUCTION DOWN TO, SAY,
ABOUT 1820.
FROM 1820 TO ROUGHLY 1945,
SOMETHING VERY
DIFFERENT HAPPENED.
YOU HAVE A HUGE DIVERGENCE
AS SOME OF EAST ASIA SUFFERS
LARGE REVERSES BEFORE
STARTING TO GROW AGAIN WHILE
EUROPE HAS
UNPRECEDENTED GROWTH.
BUT SINCE 1945, EAST ASIA
HAS AGAIN FEATURED THE
STRONGEST PER CAPITA
ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE OUTSIDE
THE NORTH ATLANTIC DOING
FAR BETTER AT MAKING USE OF
WESTERN TECHNOLOGIES THAN,
FOR INSTANCE, FORMER EUROPEAN
COLONIES OR MOST OF THE
COUNTRIES OF EASTERN EUROPE.
AND EAST ASIA HAS AGAIN
CONTRIBUTED THE LARGEST
SHARE OF GROWTH IN WORLD
AGGREGATE OUTPUT SINCE '45
AND ALSO BEEN OUTSTANDING
PERFORMER IN OTHER WAYS.
HALF OF THE ENTIRE WORLD'S
GAIN IN AVERAGE LIFE
EXPECTANCY SINCE 1949
COMES FROM CHINA.
AND I WAS STUNNED WHEN I
SORT OF RAN THE NUMBERS TO
FIND OUT THAT MOST OF THAT
ACTUALLY COMES FROM THE
PERIOD BEFORE THE REOPENING
TO THE WEST IN '78.
WITHIN EAST ASIA I EMPHASIZE
CHINA, BOTH BECAUSE OF ITS
SIZE AND BECAUSE WHILE THERE
IS A LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY
IN JAPANESE, THAT TALKS
ABOUT A PRE-INDUSTRIAL
EAST ASIAN ECONOMY JUST AS
DYNAMIC AS EUROPE'S, IT
TENDS TO TREAT POST-1650
CHINA AS A SOURCE OF IDEAS
BUT NO LONGER AS A CENTRE
OF ECONOMIC DYNAMISM, THE
CENTRE HAVING SUPPOSEDLY
SHIFTED TO JAPAN BY THE
MID-17th CENTURY, WHICH
I THINK I MISTAKEN.
THUS, I BEGIN BY ESTIMATING
FOR CHINA SOME THINGS THAT
ARE MORE OR LESS KNOWN
FOR EUROPE, PARTICULARLY
CONSUMPTION LEVELS.
THE RESULTS SUGGEST A ROUGH
COMPARABILITY BETWEEN
ADVANCED AREAS IN 18th
CENTURY EAST ASIA AND THOSE
IN EUROPE.
THIS ALLOWS ME TO NORMALIZE
THE EAST ASIAN EXPERIENCE
AND USE IT TO RAISE
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ONSET OF
MODERN GROWTH IN THE WEST,
ESPECIALLY THE ROLE OF
MARKETS, THE STATE, COERCION
AND RESOURCES SECURED PARTLY
THROUGH COERCION.
I TAKE WHAT ARE USUALLY SEEN
AS TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
18th CENTURY TRAJECTORIES
TOWARDS DRAMATIC GROWTH IN
EUROPE AND TOWARDS
STAGNATION IN CHINA, AND
I EMPHASIZE THEIR SIMILARITIES
SO THAT THEIR 19th CENTURY
DIVERGENCE NEEDS
DIFFERENT EXPLANATIONS.
SO IF PART ONE IS EUROPE IN A
CHINESE MIRROR, PART TWO...
WHICH CONSISTS OF MATERIAL THAT
GOES BEYOND THE BOOK LOOKS
AT MODERN EAST ASIA IN A
EUROPEAN MIRROR ASKING WHICH
PARTS OF WHAT IS OFTEN SEEN
AS A DISTINCTIVE EAST ASIAN
APPROACH TO ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT ARE REALLY
DIFFERENT FROM EUROPEAN
PATTERNS AND I THINK WE'LL
FIND THAT FEWER OF THEM ARE
THAN WE SOMETIMES THINK.
THEN FINALLY PART THREE
I LOOK PRIMARILY AT
CONTEMPORARY CHINA AND ASK
WHETHER THE HISTORICAL
PATTERNS THAT I'VE TRACED
ELSEWHERE TELL US ANYTHING
ABOUT SOME OF THE DILEMMAS
CONFRONTING CHINESE
DEVELOPMENT AT THE MOMENT.
BUT LET'S NOW
GO BACK IN TIME.
THIRTY YEARS AGO, THERE
WAS FAIRLY BROAD SCHOLARLY
AGREEMENT THAT THE
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION WAS A
BASIC FAIRLY SUDDEN BREAK
WITH A SO-CALLED PRE-MODERN
WORLD, THAT IT BEGAN IN
ENGLAND WITH NEW BEST
PRACTICES LATER SPREADING TO
THE CONTINENT AND THAT THE
MAIN STORY WAS TECHNOLOGICAL
BREAKTHROUGHS IN A FEW KEY
INDUSTRIES... COTTON, COAL,
IRON, STEEL, LAND TRANSPORT...
RATHER THAN LOTS OF SMALL
ADVANCES SPREAD ACROSS LOTS
OF SECTORS.
AND BRITAIN'S FOREIGN TRADE...
AND AT LEAST FOR SOME,
ITS COLONIES, LOOMED LARGE.
ESPECIALLY IN THE TEXTILE STORY.
BUT THAT WAS 30 YEARS AGO.
MORE RECENT LITERATURE HAS
TREATED INDUSTRIALIZATION AS
PART OF A PROCESS... A VERY
LONG PROCESS... OF SLOWLY
GROWING MARKETS, DIVISION OF
LABOUR, SMALL INNOVATIONS
AND MILLIONS OF PEOPLE
ACCUMULATING SMALL PROFITS.
AND SINCE THOSE
TRANSFORMATIONS BEGIN WELL
BEFORE 1500 THIS GRADUAL
EUROPEAN STORY HAS NOT
NEEDED THE NON-EUROPEAN
WORLD VERY MUCH.
TO PUT IT SLIGHTLY
DIFFERENTLY, LATE 19th
CENTURY EUROPEANS, INCLUDING
MOST OF OUR INTELLECTUAL
ANCESTORS, SAW THEIR
SOCIETIES AS THE ANTITHESIS
OF BOTH A FEUDAL, OR EVEN
DARK AGE IN THEIR OWN PAST
AND ALSO AS THE ANTITHESIS
OF A SUPPOSEDLY DESPOTIC
INERT NON-WEST.
THE RECENT GRADUALIST
LITERATURE I'VE REFERRED TO
BEGINS TO CLOSE THAT PAST
PRESENT GAP QUITE A BIT
QUESTIONING WHETHER THOSE
DARK AGES WERE REALLY ALL
THAT DARK.
BUT IT'S OFTEN DONE THAT
AT THE COST OF SEEMING TO
DEEPEN THE EAST-WEST DIVIDE.
NOW IF EUROPEAN
EXCEPTIONALISM STARTS EVEN
EARLIER, THEN THE REST OF
THE WORLD IS IN SOME SENSE
EVEN LESS INTERESTING.
NOW THIS GRADUAL MARKET
DRIVEN GROWTH WHICH THESE
SCHOLARS TALK ABOUT AND
INTO WHICH THEY SUBSUME THE
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, WAS
SURELY CRUCIAL, AND I'D ARGUE
THAT IT DOESN'T
DIFFERENTIATE EUROPE FROM
EAST ASIA.
SMITHIAN DYNAMICS WORKED
THERE, TOO, BUT THEY DIDN'T
TRANSFORM BASIC
POSSIBILITIES.
EVENTUALLY HIGHLY DEVELOPED
AREAS EVERYWHERE HIT SOME
SERIOUS CONSTRAINTS IN PART
BECAUSE COMMERCIALIZATION
AND PROTO-INDUSTRIALIZATION
ACCELERATED POPULATION GROWTH.
EUROPE, I WOULD ARGUE,
ESCAPED AT LEAST PARTLY
THANKS TO COAL WHICH WAS
FAVOURABLY LOCATED, THE NEW
WORLD, AND FAVOURABLE
GLOBAL CONJUNCTURES.
OR TO BE MORE
PRECISE, BRITAIN DID.
SINCE
PROTO-INDUSTRIALIZATION IN
PLACES LIKE FLANDERS IN
HOLLAND ACTUALLY LED TO
RESULTS THAT I WOULD ARGUE
LOOK MORE LIKE THE YANGTZE
DELTA OR THE KANTO PLAIN
THAN THEY DO LIKE ENGLAND.
THUS, THE INDUSTRIAL
REVOLUTION BECOMES A SHARP
DISCONTINUITY TO BE
EXPLAINED AGAIN BECAUSE
I WOULD SAY ONE CAN JUST AS
EASILY SEE ENGLAND AS A
YANGTZE DELTA MONGKE, AS
THE MORE USUAL OPERATION OF
SEEING THE YANGTZE DELTA AS AN
ENGLAND THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN.
SO LET'S NOW SET UP THIS
BROAD COMPARABILITY.
IN A VERY POWERFUL VERSION
OF THE GRADUALIST EUROPEAN
STORY, JAN DE VRIES HAS
SUBSUMED THE INDUSTRIAL
REVOLUTION IN A LARGER
INDUSTRIOUS REVOLUTION,
A CONCEPT WHICH HELPS
RESOLVE THE PARADOX.
THE GRAIN BUYING POWER OF
EUROPEAN DAY WAGES FELL
SHARPLY BETWEEN ABOUT 1430
AND 1550, AND IT DIDN'T FULLY
RECOVER UNTIL AFTER 1840,
DEPENDING ON WHAT COUNTRY
YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT.
YET OVER THE SAME PERIOD,
ORDINARY PEOPLE'S POSSESSIONS...
CLOTHES, COOKWARE, FURNITURE
AND SO ON... CLEARLY INCREASED.
THESE TRENDS COULD OCCUR
TOGETHER BECAUSE PEOPLE
WORKED MORE HOURS PER YEAR
FOR THE MARKET EARNING
INCOME THAT PAID FOR
MORE GOODIES PLUS THEIR
INCREASINGLY
EXPENSIVE BREAD.
THEY MAY HAVE HAD LESS
LEISURE... THOUGH THAT'S NOT
ENTIRELY CLEAR.
THEY CERTAINLY SPENT LESS
TIME MAKING GOODS FOR THEIR
OWN HOUSEHOLDS.
THEY SPECIALIZED MORE AND
THEY BOUGHT OTHER THINGS,
SOME OF WHICH 'SAVED TIME',
IN MODERN PARLANCE,
ON DOMESTIC CHORES.
MUCH THE SAME THING
HAPPENED IN CHINA.
THE RICE BUYING POWER OF DAY
WAGES FALLS FOR MOST OF THE
PERIOD FROM 1100 ON, BUT
NUTRITIONAL STANDARDS DO NOT
SEEM TO HAVE FALLEN AND WERE
NOT, AS FAR AS WE CAN TELL,
INFERIOR TO EUROPE.
CALORIC INTAKE IN 18th
CENTURY CHINA COMPARES QUITE
WELL WITH THE MOST
PROSPEROUS PARTS OF EUROPE.
ROUGH NUTRITIONAL PARITY OR
BETTER IS ALSO SUGGESTED BY
CHINESE LIFE EXPECTANCIES
WHICH ARE COMPARABLE TO
THOSE FOR ENGLAND AND WELL
ABOVE THOSE FOR MOST OF THE
CONTINENT AS WELL AS 1800.
AND ALSO BY SOME INDIRECT
BUT POWERFUL EVIDENCE THAT
CHINESE DEATH RATES MAY
WELL HAVE BEEN LOWER THAN
EUROPEAN ONES FOR MOST OF
THE PERIOD 1500 TO 1800.
VERY CRUDELY, WE NOW KNOW
THAT CONTRARY TO POPULAR
MYTHOLOGY, CHINESE BIRTH
RATES FOR MOST OF THIS
PERIOD ARE LOWER THAN
EUROPEAN ONES... OR AT LEAST
BIRTH RATES IN THE PARTS OF
CHINA WHERE WE HAVE DECENT DATA.
WE KNOW THAT POPULATION
INCREASE IS SLIGHTLY FASTER
IN CHINA THAN IN EUROPE
OVER THIS PERIOD.
IF BIRTH RATES ARE A LITTLE
BIT LOWER, POPULATION GROWTH IS
A LITTLE BIT FASTER, AND
EMIGRATION AT THIS POINT IS
NOT LARGE ENOUGH TO MAKE
MUCH DIFFERENCE, IT'S HARD
TO SEE HOW CHINESE DEATH
RATES COULD NOT HAVE BEEN AT
LEAST SLIGHTLY LOWER THAN IN
EUROPE OVER THE SAME PERIOD.
THERE IS, HOWEVER, LOTS MORE
TO LIFE THAN STAYING ALIVE
AND WHAT IS PARTICULARLY
STRIKING TO ME IS LOTS OF
EVIDENCE OF INCREASED
CONSUMPTION OF
NON-ESSENTIALS BY ORDINARY
EAST ASIANS BETWEEN, SAY,
1500 AND 1750.
THE STORY HAS BEEN WELL
ESTABLISHED FOR JAPAN.
IT'S LESS ACCEPTED FOR CHINA
BUT THE EVIDENCE IS THERE,
IF SCATTERED.
MY OWN ESTIMATES SUGGEST
THAT FOR SILK, TEA, SUGAR,
AND CLOTH GENERALLY, CHINESE
PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION WAS
PROBABLY HIGHER IN 1750
THAN EUROPE IN 1800.
AND HERE I WANT TO SAY A
MINUTE, SPEND A SECOND,
TALKING ABOUT
COMPARABLE UNITS.
BECAUSE CHINA IS A SINGLE
20th CENTURY NATION STATE,
WE OFTEN PUT IT AGAINST
EUROPEAN NATION STATES.
SO WE DO CHINA AND ENGLAND
OR CHINA AND FRANCE.
AS SOON AS YOU THINK ABOUT
SCALE YOU REALIZE THAT
THAT'S A MISTAKE
FOR MOST PURPOSES.
CHINA IS MORE COMPARABLE TO
EUROPE AS A WHOLE AND AS
EUROPE HAS ITS ENGLAND AND
ITS BALKANS, CHINA HAS ITS
YANGTZE DELTA AND ITS GANSU.
SO WHAT I TRY AND DO FOR THE
MOST PART IS COMPARE CHINA
NOT TO INDIVIDUAL EUROPEAN
COUNTRIES BUT TO EUROPE AND
THEN WITHIN EACH PLACE TRY
TO LOCATE REGIONS THAT HAVE
A COMPARABLE ROLE RELATIVE
TO THE REST OF THE ECONOMY
OF THE LARGE REGION.
SO THE YANGTZE DELTA, WHICH
HAS OVER 30 MILLION PEOPLE
IN THE LATE 18th CENTURY AND
IS THE MOST DEVELOPED PART
OF THE COUNTRY I USUALLY USE
TO COMPARE AGAINST ENGLAND
OR ENGLAND AND HOLLAND.
A PLACE LIKE THE FAR
NORTHWEST WOULD BE CHINA'S
BALKANS, SO ON AND SO FORTH.
AT ANY RATE...

A slide pops up that reads "Table 2: Tea and sugar consumption in China and Europe. A) China circa 1750: 3.8-5.0 pound of sugar per capita for country as a whole, heavily concentrated in the Lower Yangzi, Southeast Coast and Lingnan, where consumption may have been as high as 10 pounds per capita.
Tea: 0.7 pounds per capita, circa 1840: no earlier figures available."

Kenneth continues HERE WE HAVE SOME ROUGH
FIGURES ON TEA AND SUGAR
CONSUMPTION, AND IT'S NO
GREAT SURPRISE FOR THINGS
LIKE TEA AND SILK THAT
CHINA STACKS UP FAIRLY WELL
AGAINST EUROPE.
BUT SUGAR AND TOTAL CLOTH
ARE REALLY QUITE SURPRISING,
AND I RAN THESE NUMBERS
SEVERAL TIMES TO SEE WHAT
I WAS DOING WRONG BECAUSE EVEN
I DIDN'T BELIEVE THEY COULD
BE RIGHT AT FIRST, AND I
GRADUALLY CONVINCED MYSELF
AND I THINK A
FEW OTHER PEOPLE.

Another chart compares the consumption of sugar in Europe and Britain in 1680, 1750 and 1800, showing it went up from 1 to 2.6 pounds in Europe and from 4 to 18 pounds in England.

Kenneth continues IT'S ALSO INTERESTING TO
PLACE A SURVEY OF CHINESE
FURNITURE OWNERSHIP SIDE BY
SIDE WITH DE VRIES' FIGURES
FOR TWO GOLDEN
AGE DUTCH SAMPLES.
AND THIS COMPARISON
NEEDS MANY CAVEATS.
THERE ARE LOTS AND LOTS OF
PROBLEMS WITH COMPARABILITY
I WILL ADMIT.
BUT CONSIDER THAT THE DUTCH
FIGURES ARE, AFTER ALL,
THOUGH THEY'RE TWO PLACES IN
THE NETHERLANDS, THEY BOTH
COME FROM ONE OF THE MOST
PROSPEROUS COUNTRIES IN EUROPE.

A new chart shows the average number of good home furnishings per rural household in China and Friesland. The figures are higher in China for most types of home furnishings.

Kenneth continues THE CHINA FIGURES
ARE CHINA-WIDE.
AND SO DESPITE MANY PROBLEMS
I THINK THAT THERE'S
SOMETHING SUGGESTIVE HERE.
NOW SOME SCHOLARS HAVE
SUGGESTED THAT CHINESE
GROWTH WAS THE RESULT
OF A KIND OF CHINOVIAN
SELF-EXPLOITATION,
ESPECIALLY OF WOMEN WORKING
AT HOME, THE ARGUMENT BEING
WELL, YES, PRODUCTION GREW,
BUT PRODUCTION GREW IN THIS
VERY PECULIAR WAY IN WHICH
YOU KEPT PILING ON MORE AND
MORE AND MORE LABOUR AND IT
DIDN'T LEAD... IT WASN'T
LEADING ANYWHERE.
IT WAS, IN FACT,
LEADING TO A DEAD END.
THE EVIDENCE I'VE BEEN ABLE
TO FIND SUGGESTS OTHERWISE.
THE IMPLICIT WAGE OF
HOME-BASED FEMALE TEXTILE
WORKERS CIRCA 1750 COMES OUT
ABOUT THE SAME AS FOR MALE
FARM WORKERS, WELL ABOVE
SUBSISTENCE IN BOTH CASES
AND PROPELLING A TREND
TOWARD REPLACING HOME-MADE
PRODUCTS WITH PURCHASES.
IN OTHER WORDS, PEOPLE WERE
EARNING ENOUGH IN THE MARKET
THAT IT WAS WORTH TRYING
TO SAVE THEIR TIME BY
PURCHASING GOODS THAT THEY
WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE HAD TO
MAKE IN THE HOME FOR
THEMSELVES, AND THAT'S THE
ENGINE THAT PROPELS
FURTHER GROWTH.
THUS, IN CHINESE CORES, LIKE
JAPANESE AND EUROPEAN ONES,
WE HAVE NOT SO-CALLED
INVOLUTION BUT SOMETHING
MUCH LIKE DE VRIES'
INDUSTRIOUS REVOLUTION.
BUT OF COURSE THE
PARALLELS DON'T LAST.
IN THE 150 YEARS AFTER 1750,
PRODUCTION, CONSUMPTION AND
SPECIALIZATION ALL JUMP
FORWARD IN EUROPE, WHILE IN
CHINA PER CAPITA NON-GRAIN
CONSUMPTION ACTUALLY DECLINES.
1900 FIGURES FOR CLOTH AND
SUGAR, FOR INSTANCE, ARE
WELL BELOW EVEN MY MOST
CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATES FOR 1750.
MOREOVER, THIS DECLINE IN
CHINESE CONSUMPTION OCCURRED
WITHOUT MUCH COMMENT.
IN OTHER WORDS, YOU DON'T
FIND MANY SCHOLARS SAYING
GEE, EVERYBODY HAS LESS NOW
THAN THEY DID WHEN I WAS A BOY.
AND THIS WORRIED ME FOR
QUITE A WHILE, BUT AS WE'LL
SEE LATER, I THINK THERE'S A
FAIRLY STRAIGHTFORWARD SOLUTION.
SO WHAT'S GOING ON?
MUCH OF THE DIFFERENCE, I
WOULD SAY, IS ECOLOGICAL,
BUT NOT IN THE SIMPLE SENSE
THAT POPULATION PRESSURE WAS
PRODUCING ANY MORE SERIOUS
PROBLEMS WITHIN CHINESE
CORES THAN IN CORE
AREAS OF EUROPE.
I'VE RECONSTRUCTED NITROGEN
FLUXES FROM DRY FARMING
AREAS OF NORTH CHINA AND
ENGLAND CIRCA 1800,
AND THEY DON'T SHOW MORE
SEVERE STRESS IN CHINA.

A new slide compares the wheat yield, the nitrogen depletion and the nitrogen added to soil by manuring in England and China.

Kenneth continues AND IF I THREW IN SOUTH
CHINA'S PADDY RICE REGIONS,
THE COMPARISON WOULD
ACTUALLY FAVOUR CHINA
FAIRLY LOPSIDEDLY.
HERE I SHOULD NOTE, BY
COMPARING NORTH CHINA AND
ENGLAND, I'VE DEPARTED FROM
MY OWN PRINCIPLE OF TRY AND
COMPARE ADVANCED REGIONS OF
CHINA AND ADVANCED REGIONS
OF EUROPE.
NORTH CHINA IS NOT ONE OF
THE MORE ADVANCED REGIONS
OF CHINA.
ON THE OTHER HAND, IN ORDER
TO HAVE THE COMPARISON MAKE
ANY SENSE YOU HAVE TO FIND
REGIONS THAT ARE GROWING
COMPARABLE CROPS.
EVEN FOR WOOD SUPPLY AND
DEFORESTATION, THERE'S NO
CLEAR WESTERN EUROPEAN
ADVANTAGE CIRCA 1750 DESPITE
ITS MUCH SPARSER
POPULATION.
THE CHINESE USE LAND AND
FUEL FAR MORE INTENSIVELY,
AND THEY'RE ACTUALLY BETTER
OFF IN MANY WAYS THAN EUROPE.
HERE LET ME SPEND A MINUTE...
BECAUSE THESE NUMBERS MAY
MAKE NO SENSE INITIALLY.
LET ME SORT OF
EXPLAIN WHAT THEY ARE.

A table pops up titled "Wood/fuel supply comparisons: Lingnan, France and Southwest Shandong."
The table shows that between 1753 and 1853 the forested areas in Guangdong went down from 9 million hectares to less than 5 million, whereas in Lingnan they went from over 15 million to just over 9 million.

Kenneth continues THE FIRST TABLE IS
PRETTY STRAIGHTFORWARD.
FOR EACH DATE YOU HAVE
REMAINING FORESTED AREAS IN
LINGNAN WHICH IS ALONG
THE SOUTHERN COAST.
UNFORTUNATELY, WHAT I WOULD
HAVE LOVED TO DO IS GET
DECENT FIGURES FOR
THE LOWER YANGTZE.

A map pops up showing the forested areas in different regions of China.

Kenneth continues UNFORTUNATELY, THE LOWER
YANGTZE IMPORTS SO MUCH WOOD
IN THIS PERIOD... WE KNOW THE
IMPORTS ARE HUGE, BUT WE
DON'T HAVE THE NUMBERS SO
YOU CAN'T DO ANY KIND OF
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS.
SO I DID SOMETHING FOR
LINGNAN WHICH IS THE AREA
FOCUSED ON CANTON.
IT'S THE SECOND-MOST
DEVELOPED PART OF CHINA, AND
I PAIRED IT OFF AGAINST
FRANCE, NOT QUITE THE
RICHEST PART OF EUROPE BUT
CERTAINLY A RELATIVELY
PROSPEROUS ONE.
FIRST TABLE IS PRETTY
STRAIGHTFORWARD.
THIS IS JUST... YOU SEE
WHAT'S HAPPENING TO FOREST
COVER OVER TIME AS
POPULATION GROWS.
THE INTERESTING THING IS YOU
MIGHT NOTICE THAT FRANCE IS
ACTUALLY REMOVING ITS FOREST
COVER EVEN FASTER DESPITE A
SPARSER POPULATION AND A
MORE SLOWLY GROWING ONE.

A new table pops up that reads "Total Lignan fuel supply per capita if wood had no other uses."

Kenneth continues THE SECOND TABLE IS SOMEWHAT
FICTIONAL IN THAT WHAT I SAY
IS IMAGINE THAT IN ANY GIVEN
YEAR ALL YOU CAN BURN IS
THAT YEAR'S GROWTH
IN WOOD AND SO FORTH.
IN OTHER WORDS, YOU'RE NOT
GOING TO CUT... YOU DON'T
WANT TO CUT AT AN
UNSUSTAINABLE RATE.
IN THAT CASE, HOW MANY TCE,
TONS OF COAL EQUIVALENT,
WOULD YOU HAVE?
AND AGAIN, YOU CAN SEE THAT
PER CAPITA, THE FUEL SUPPLY IS
STEADILY BEING DEPLETED
AND YET AGAIN, PUT IT UP
AGAINST WESTERN EUROPE
IT'S NOT DOING SO BADLY.
THE THIRD REGION THAT I
HAVE, SOUTHWESTERN SHANDONG,
IS ANOTHER STORY.
IT'S A PARTICULARLY POOR
PART OF NORTH CHINA WHICH
WAS INTERESTING TO ME
FOR VARIOUS REASONS.
THE THIRD TABLE IS EVEN MORE
FICTIONAL, BUT I THINK IN A
CERTAIN WAY QUITE USEFUL.
WHAT IT DOES IS SAY IMAGINE
THAT YOU TOOK EACH YEAR'S
WOOD PRODUCTION AND BEFORE
YOU DID ANYTHING ELSE WITH
ANY OF IT, YOU MADE SURE
THAT EVERY SINGLE FAMILY MET
ITS MINIMUM FUEL NEEDS...

A new table shows the forest land in hectares, the forest needed for fuel and the remaining surplus between 1753 and 1853.

Kenneth continues WHICH OF COURSE IS NOT
WHAT HAPPENS ANYWHERE.
BUT IT'S STILL... IT'S A KIND
OF USEFUL HEURISTIC TO SAY
IF YOU DID THAT, WHAT WOULD YOU
HAVE LEFT FOR EVERYTHING ELSE?
AND ONCE AGAIN, YOU SEE
POPULATION GROWTH IS CAUSING
SERIOUS DEPLETION, BUT
AGAIN, COMPARE IT WITH
FRANCE AND YOU SEE THE
DROP-OFF IS EVEN MORE SEVERE.
SO I DON'T THINK THAT ONE
CAN MAKE A SIMPLE ARGUMENT
THAT PEOPLE IN THE ADVANCED
AREAS OF CHINA ARE RUNNING
THROUGH THEIR RESOURCES
MORE RAPIDLY THAN PEOPLE IN
COMPARABLE PARTS OF EUROPE.
WHAT'S STRIKING INSTEAD IS
THAT IN THE 19th CENTURY AT
THE VERY MOMENT THAT
EUROPEAN GROWTH MOVES TO
UNPRECEDENTED LEVELS,
CERTAIN ECOLOGICAL VARIABLES
THAT HAD BEEN GETTING MUCH
WORSE ACTUALLY STABILIZE.
EUROPEAN FOREST COVER, WHICH
HAD BEEN DECLINING STEADILY
FOR 300 YEARS STABILIZES
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 1800 AND 1850.
VARIOUS INDICATIONS OF
DECLINE IN SOIL QUALITY
WHICH YOU FIND IN THE
18th CENTURY ALSO LARGELY
STABILIZE IN THE
19th CENTURY.
AND THE ECOLOGICAL
DIFFERENCE, I WOULD ARGUE,
IS, CRUDELY PUT, TWOFOLD.
ONE IS THE TRANSITION IN
A FEW PARTS OF EUROPE AND
LATER MORE TO FOSSIL FUELS,
WHICH OBVIOUSLY GREATLY
RELIEVED PRESSURE
ON FORESTS.
THIS IS PARTLY A MATTER
OF TECHNICAL INNOVATION,
BUT IT'S ALSO PARTLY
A MATTER OF LUCK.
MOST CHINESE COAL WAS JUST
MUCH TOO MANY LANDLOCKED
MILES AWAY FROM ITS CORE
REGIONS TO BE ECONOMICAL
BEFORE RAILWAYS OR TO EXCITE
THE KIND OF INTEREST THAT
LEADS TO TECHNOLOGICAL
BREAKTHROUGHS.
SECONDLY, WESTERN EUROPE
BENEFITED FROM A SURGE IN
IMPORTS OF VARIOUS LAND
INTENSIVE PRODUCTS,
ESPECIALLY FROM
THE NEW WORLD.
AS DEMAND FOR FOOD, FIBRE,
BUILDING MATERIALS AND FUEL...
MALTHUS' FAMOUS FOUR
NECESSITIES... GREW WITH
POPULATION CORES EVERYWHERE RAN
SHORT OF ONE OR MORE OF THEM.
TO ONE DEGREE OR ANOTHER,
THEY HAD TO BUY LAND
INTENSIVE PRODUCTS FROM
PERIPHERIES THAT WANTED WHAT
THE CORE SOLD.
MANUFACTURERS,
MOSTLY TEXTILES.
PERFECTLY NORMAL PROCESS
OCCURS EVERYWHERE.
BUT THAT KIND OF TRADE TENDS
TO RUN INTO ONE OF TWO PROBLEMS.
IF FAMILIES IN THE PERIPHERY
ARE FAIRLY FREE TO ALLOCATE
THEIR OWN LABOUR, THEN
THE EXPORT BOOM AND
COMMERCIALIZATION WILL
PROBABLY TOUCH OFF POPULATION
GROWTH, BOTH DUE TO NATURAL
INCREASE AND IMMIGRATION.
AND, SECONDLY, AS THE BEST
LAND FILLS UP OR THE BEST
FORESTS GET CUT DOWN,
SOME LABOUR WILL SWITCH
INTO HANDICRAFTS.
YOU WILL GET
PROTO-INDUSTRIALIZATION.
REDUCING RAW MATERIAL
SURPLUSES FOR EXPORT AND
REDUCING DEMAND FOR IMPORTED
MANUFACTURED GOODS.
REMEMBER, WE'RE STILL
TALKING ABOUT AN ERA IN THE
18th CENTURY WHERE MOST
TECHNOLOGY IS RELATIVELY
EASY TO COPY AND TRANSPORT
COSTS ARE PRETTY HIGH AND
AFFORD A MEASURE OF
NATURAL PROTECTION.
AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS IN
MUCH OF THE CHINESE INTERIOR
IN THE LATE 18th CENTURY.

The map of the forested areas reappears.

Kenneth continues AREAS LIKE THE MIDDLE
YANGTZE WHICH HAD BEEN A
MAJOR SOURCE OF RICE,
TIMBER, ET CETERA FOR THE
LOWER YANGTZE, NORTH CHINA,
WHICH HAD BEEN A MAJOR
SOURCE OF RAW COTTON, TO
SOME EXTENT THE UPPER
YANGTZE, ET CETERA, ALL GROW
VERY RAPIDLY IN POPULATION.
THE MOST RAPID POPULATION
IN THE EMPIRES HERE IN THE
UPPER YANGTZE AND THEY ALSO
BEGIN TO DEVELOP A LOT MORE
OF THEIR OWN
HANDICRAFT INDUSTRIES.
WHAT HAD BEEN BY FAR THE
LARGEST LONG DISTANCE STAPLE
TRADE IN THE WORLD... GRAIN
IMPORTS TO THE LOWER YANGTZE
ALONE FED AT LEAST SIX
MILLION PEOPLE, AND THERE
WERE ALSO HUGE IMPORTS OF
RAW COTTON, TIMBER, BEAN
CAKE FERTILIZER AND SO FORTH...
BEGINS TO FIRST PLATEAU
AND THEN DECLINE AS THE
PERIPHERIES GAIN IN
POPULATION AND DEVELOP
MORE PROTO-INDUSTRY.
MOREOVER, THE RICE BUYING
POWER OF EACH PIECE OF CLOTH
THAT CORE REGIONS
EXPORT DECLINES.
AND THIS SERIOUSLY
CONSTRAINS DEVELOPMENT OF
THE CORE REGIONS.
YANGTZE DELTA POPULATION IS
ESSENTIALLY FLAT FROM 1750
TO 1850 AND THE SHARE OF
POPULATION THAT WAS OUTSIDE
AGRICULTURE STOPPED GROWING.
THESE NUMBERS I REALLY
DO NEED TO EMPHASIZE.
THESE ARE VERY
ROUGH NUMBERS.
THERE ARE SERIOUS DATA
PROBLEMS, BUT I STILL THINK
THEY ARE GENERALLY
DESCRIPTIVE.

A new table compares figures for different Chinese regions in 1750-1850 and 1850-1950.

Kenneth continues WHAT YOU SEE IS WITHIN THE
LOWER... THE LOWER YANGTZE IS
GROWING MUCH MORE SLOWLY
THAN THE EMPIRE AS A WHOLE
AND WITHIN THE LOWER
YANGTZE, THE CORE
PREFECTURES, JHIANGNAN,
ARE NOT GROWING AT ALL.
LINGNAN YOU CAN SEE IS
GROWING SOMEWHAT MORE SLOWLY
THAN THE EMPIRE AS A WHOLE,
THOUGH NOT THAT MUCH, BUT
WITHIN IT, THE PEARL RIVER
DELTA, THE MOST ADVANCED
AREA, GROWING QUITE
A BIT MORE SLOWLY.
IN POORER AREAS YOU SEE
HIGHER RATES OF POPULATION
GROWTH, AND EVEN WITHIN
THOSE POORER AREAS IT'S THE
PERIPHERY WITHIN THE
PERIPHERY... SO FOR INSTANCE,
NORTH CHINA GROWS
FAIRLY RAPIDLY.
THE NORTH CHINA
CORE, NOT MUCH.
IF YOU LOOK AT JAPAN IN
ROUGHLY THE SAME PERIOD,
YOU FIND AN EVEN MORE
STRIKING PATTERN.
POPULATION ACTUALLY DECLINES
SLIGHTLY IN JAPAN'S MOST
ADVANCED AREAS FROM 1720 TO
1860, AND THE URBANIZATION
RATE FELL SLIGHTLY, TOO.
WHAT POPULATION GROWTH JAPAN
HAD IN THAT PERIOD WAS ALL
IN PERIPHERAL REGIONS
WHICH WERE DEVELOPING MORE
PROTO-INDUSTRY AND EXPORTING
FEWER PRIMARY PRODUCTS AS
VARIOUS POLICIES THAT HAD
PREVIOUSLY KEPT OUTER
HAN FROM DIVERSIFYING
THEIR ECONOMIES WERE
GRADUALLY ABANDONED.
NOW IT'S WORTH REMEMBERING
HERE THAT THE PATTERN I'M
DESCRIBING FOR CHINA IN
PARTICULAR IS ONLY A FAILURE
RELATIVE TO THE
ANACHRONISTIC STANDARD OF
THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD.
SOMETHING THAT
NOBODY SAW COMING.
IN THE CHINESE CASE, THERE
WAS ACTUALLY A PERFORMANCE
THAT CHING STATECRAFT
HAD REASON TO APPLAUD.
THE GOAL OF CHING POLITICAL
ECONOMY WAS IN LARGE PART TO
ALLOW AS MANY PEOPLE AS
POSSIBLE TO LIVE WHAT THEY
CONCEIVED OF AS
THE GOOD LIFE.
THAT IS, TO FORM FAMILIES
THAT ENJOYED A REASONABLE
LEVEL OF SUBSISTENCE,
SOME SECURITY,
AND COULD PAY THEIR TAXES.
BASED ON A COMBINATION OF
FAMILY FARMING AND SOME WORK
FOR THE WIFE THAT PROVIDED
SUPPLEMENTARY INCOME BUT WAS
CONSISTENT WITH NOTIONS OF
FEMALE MODESTY AND MOTHERHOOD.
HOME-BASED TEXTILE
PRODUCTION WAS GENERALLY
THOUGHT TO BE IDEAL.
TO THAT END, THE CHING DID
AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT TO HELP
SETTLE AND STABILIZE NEW
COMMUNITIES AND COMMUNITIES
IN FRAGILE ECOLOGIES,
PROVIDING LOANS, TAX
HOLIDAYS, SEEDS, ET CETERA,
SUBSIDIES FOR WELL-DIGGING.
AND THEY DID A GREAT DEAL
TO SPREAD EXISTING BEST
PRACTICES ACROSS THE
LANDSCAPE, INTRODUCING SEEDS
AND CULTIVATION TECHNIQUES
FROM ELSEWHERE TO DIFFERENT
PARTS OF CHINA, TEACHING
WOMEN HOW TO SPIN AND WEAVE
COTTON IN AREAS WHERE THIS
HADN'T BEEN DONE BEFORE
AND SO ON.
ALL OF THIS TENDED TO CREATE
A RELATIVELY EVEN DISBURSAL
OF PRODUCTION ACROSS THE
LANDSCAPE, RATHER THAN TO
PROMOTE REGIONAL
SPECIALIZATION AND
PERPETUATE THE LEAD OF THE MOST
ADVANCED MANUFACTURING AREA.
CHINA IS, AFTER ALL, EVEN
LARGER BOTH GEOGRAPHICALLY
AND IN POPULATION THAN
EUROPE, AND THE LACK OF
INTERNAL BARRIERS, AND
IN FACT VARIOUS FORMS OF
ASSISTANCE GIVEN TO POORER
REGIONS, SPREAD GROWTH
ACROSS THE LANDSCAPE
IMPRESSIVELY.
BUT IN THE LONG RUN, THIS
LED NOT TO A DRAMATIC
BREAKTHROUGH IN ANY ONE
REGION, BUT TO, I WOULD
ARGUE, A SORT OF
ECOLOGICAL CUL-DE-SAC.
THERE IS, HOWEVER, A VERY
IMPORTANT EXCEPTION TO THIS
VISION OF WHAT THE
CHING WERE UP TO.
IN VARIOUS MINORITY AREAS,
ESPECIALLY IN THE FAR WEST
AND THE NORTHEAST, THEY
THOUGHT THAT IT WAS MORE
IMPORTANT FOR STABILITY AND
SECURITY TO MAINTAIN AN
ENVIRONMENT WHERE THOSE
PEOPLE COULD LIVE BY THE
NORMS THEY WERE USED TO THAN
TO PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR
HAN SETTLEMENT AND
DEVELOPMENT, AND THEY PLACED
THESE REGIONS AND THEIR
RESOURCES LARGELY, THOUGH
NOT ENTIRELY, OFF LIMITS.
I'LL RETURN TO THOSE AREAS
LATER WHEN I TALK ABOUT
CONTEMPORARY CHINA.
ANYWAY, SO THAT'S A CHINESE
STORY WHICH I WOULD ARGUE IS
THE STORY THAT YOU GET IN
AREAS WHERE INSTITUTIONS ARE
FAIRLY FLEXIBLE IN
THE PERIPHERAL AREAS.
IN PERIPHERIES WHERE LABOUR
IS LESS FLEXIBLE BECAUSE OF
LOCAL INSTITUTIONS YOU'LL
GET A LOT LESS OF THIS SORT
OF DEVELOPMENT.
FEW PEOPLE WILL MIGRATE IN
AND THERE WON'T BE MUCH WAGE
LABOUR ALLOWING PEOPLE TO
START FAMILIES WITHOUT
WAITING TO INHERIT.
NOR WILL PEOPLE BE ABLE TO
SWITCH INTO PROTO-INDUSTRY
ON ANY GREAT SCALE.
AND DESPITE IMPORTANT
EXCEPTIONS, I'D ARGUE THAT
PRE-1860 EASTERN EUROPE
ACTUALLY FITS THIS MODEL
RELATIVELY WELL.
SO HERE YOU DON'T GET IMPORT
SUBSTITUTION BUT YOU ALSO
DON'T GET AS BIG A RESPONSE
TO EXTERNAL DEMAND OR AS A
BIG A MARKET FOR GOODS FROM
THE CORE IN THE FIRST PLACE.
THAT'S WHY WE SAY THESE
INSTITUTIONS ARE LESS FLEXIBLE.
SO EXPORTS PLATEAU IN THOSE
PLACES, TOO, AS THE BALTIC
TRADE DID BY ABOUT 1650 AT A
FRACTION THE SIZE OF CHINA'S
LONG DISTANCE STAPLE TRADES.
THE NEW WORLD, HOWEVER,
WAS VERY DIFFERENT.
IN VAST DEPOPULATED REGIONS
MUCH OF THE NEW LABOUR FORCE
WAS SLAVES WHO WERE
PURCHASED FROM ABROAD AT AN
ANNUAL COST EQUAL TO ABOUT A
QUARTER OF LATE 18th CENTURY
EXPORT REVENUES.
MOREOVER, NEW WORLD SLAVES
PRODUCED LESS OF THEIR OWN
SUBSISTENCE NEEDS THAN DID
MOST COERCED CASH CROP
WORKERS IN THE OLD WORLD.
THUS, DESPITE THEIR POVERTY,
THEY WERE A NON-TRIVIAL
MARKET FOR LOW END
MANUFACTURERS.
CONSEQUENTLY THE CIRCUM
CARIBBEAN SLAVE REGION FROM
BRAZIL TO THE U.S. SOUTH
BECOMES A NEW KIND OF
PERIPHERY WITH LARGE BILLS
TO PAY FOR IMPORT OF CAPITAL
GOODS... HUMAN ONES IN THIS
CASE... A PRETTY LARGE MARKET
FOR MASS CONSUMER GOODS,
CHEAP CLOTH, AND THUS A NEED
TO KEEP INCREASING ITS LAND
INTENSIVE EXPORTS.
I DON'T HAVE THE TIME TO GO
INTO IT HERE, BUT I WOULD
ARGUE THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY
SEE A SIMILAR DYNAMIC
HAPPENING IN THE FREE LABOUR
PARTS OF NORTH AMERICA AS
WELL PROPELLED BY DIFFERENT
THINGS, BUT ONCE AGAIN, A
SITUATION WHERE THE ABILITY
TO SEND PEOPLE ACROSS THE
ATLANTIC AND INCREASE...
AND MOVE THE FRONTIER OF
SETTLEMENT IS DIRECTLY TIED
TO BEING ABLE TO EXPORT BACK
TO EUROPE.
RUSSELL MENARD HAS REALLY
SORT OF PIONEERED THIS ARGUMENT.
THIS ALLOWS EUROPE TO BECOME
EVER MORE SPECIALIZED
IN MANUFACTURING.
SO WESTERN EUROPE BENEFITS
FROM MARKETS IN ITS
PERIPHERIES THAT DON'T QUITE
WORK AT TIMES FROM BOUND
LABOUR, COLONIAL
MONOPOLIES, ET CETERA.
MARKETS WORKED QUITE WELL IN
MUCH OF EAST ASIA AND THAT
DID SPREAD CERTAIN KINDS
OF PRODUCTION ACROSS THE
LANDSCAPE, BUT IT DIDN'T
LEAD TO A BREAKTHROUGH.
ONE REASON CHINA'S DECLINES
IN PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION
DON'T ATTRACT MUCH COMMENT,
AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, IS
THAT THERE PROBABLY WASN'T
MUCH DECLINE IN MOST AREAS.
THE LOWER YANGTZE, FOR
INSTANCE, PROBABLY CONSUMED
ROUGHLY AS MUCH CLOTH AND
SUGAR IN 1850 AS IN 1750,
BUT IT'S GONE FROM BEING
ALMOST 20 PERCENT OF CHINA'S
POPULATION TO
BEING 9 PERCENT.
THESE POPULATION SHIFTS
ALONE CAN ACCOUNT FOR ALMOST
ALL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
MY 1750 SUGAR CONSUMPTION
ESTIMATES AND THOSE
IN A 1930's SURVEY.
IN THE HINTERLANDS
PROTO-INDUSTRIALIZATION
IS HAPPENING.
THE STANDARD OF LIVING MAY
STILL BE CREEPING UP A BIT,
BUT IT'S STILL FAR SHORT OF
YANGTZE DELTA STANDARDS.
AND IT'S COMING TO HAVE
MORE AND MORE WEIGHT IN
CHINESE AGGREGATES.
HAVING NOW, AT LEAST FOR
ARGUMENT'S SAKE, NORMALIZED
CHINA'S EXPERIENCE, LET ME
SUGGEST SOME OF THE WAYS
THIS MIGHT AFFECT
OUR VIEW OF EUROPE.
MOST OBVIOUSLY, IT SUGGESTS
A RELATIVELY LATE DIVERGENCE
IN ECONOMIC FORTUNES.
SECOND, IT SUGGESTS THE
ENORMOUS IMPORTANCE OF
RELAXING LAND CONSTRAINTS
BOTH THROUGH FOSSIL FUELS
AND THROUGH THE NEW WORLD IN
ENABLING CHUNKS OF NORTHWEST
EUROPE TO USE VASTLY MORE
PRIMARY PRODUCTS WITHOUT
THEIR PRICES SOARING.
AS AN ECONOMIST MIGHT PUT
IT, IT ENABLES YOU TO
MAINTAIN SMALL COUNTRY
ASSUMPTION EVEN AS IMPORTING
AREAS IN EUROPE
GROW AND GROW.
THE PARADOX OF BRITAIN'S
AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION IN
WHICH PER ACRE YIELDS WERE
APPARENTLY FLAT, BUT SOMEHOW
MORE PEOPLE GOT FED, EVEN
BEFORE YOU ADD IN FOOD IMPORTS,
LARGELY DISAPPEARS IF YOU
REALIZE THAT FOOD PRODUCTION
GREW BUT AGRICULTURAL
PRODUCTION DIDN'T.
BRITAIN CEASED TO GET MOST
OF ITS BUILDING MATERIALS,
CLOTHING FIBRE AND FUEL FROM
ITS OWN AGRO FORESTRY EVEN
BEFORE IT ALSO BEGAN IMPORTING
LOADS OF GRAIN AND MEAT.
EVEN IN 1830, BEFORE THE
GREAT MID CENTURY BOOM IN
NORTH AMERICAN EXPORTS, AND
BEFORE A FIVE-FOLD RISE IN
BRITISH PER CAPITA SUGAR
CONSUMPTION, BRITAIN'S NEW
WORLD IMPORTS PROVIDE A
REMARKABLE MEASURE OF
ECOLOGICAL RELIEF.
REPLACING THEM WITH LOCAL
PRODUCTS WOULD HAVE REQUIRED
ABOUT 23 MILLION ACRES,
MOSTLY TO SUBSTITUTE FOR
COTTON IMPORTS.
THAT FIGURE IS EVEN HIGHER
THAN ANTHONY WRIGLEY'S
ESTIMATE OF THE AMOUNT OF
ADDITIONAL FOREST YOU WOULD
HAVE NEEDED TO REPLACE THE
CONTRIBUTION OF COAL CIRCA
1820, AND EITHER ONE OF
THOSE FIGURES EXCEEDS
BRITAIN'S TOTAL ARABLE AND
PASTURELAND PUT TOGETHER.
IN SHORT THEN, I'D ARGUE
THAT THE NEW WORLD WAS
CRUCIAL TO ALLOWING EUROPE
TO STRETCH IMPORTANT
ECOLOGICAL CONSTRAINTS THAT
MIGHT OTHERWISE HAVE SLOWED,
THOUGH PROBABLY NOT STOPPED,
ITS GROWTH, MUCH AS THE FILLING
UP OF THE CHINESE INTERIOR
HOBBLED THE YANGTZE DELTA.
SO THE BASIC PICTURE I'M
SUGGESTING IS ONE OF
EUROPEAN AND CHINESE CORES
THAT HAD A FAIR AMOUNT IN
COMMON, WHICH ARE HITCHED
TO VERY DIFFERENT KINDS
OF PERIPHERIES...
DEMOGRAPHICALLY,
INSTITUTIONALLY
AND ECOLOGICALLY.
SO THE COLONIES AND FORMER
COLONIES, I'D SUGGEST,
MATTER A LOT, NOT AS SOURCES
OF PROFIT PER SE, AS SOME
OLDER DEPENDENCY MODELS
SUGGESTED, BUT BECAUSE THEY
WERE A SPECIAL KIND OF
TRADING PARTNER, ONE WHICH
ALLOWED EUROPEAN CORES TO
CHANGE LABOUR AND CAPITAL
INTO LAND SAVING IMPORTS IN
A WAY THAT EXPANDED TRADE
CLOSER TO HOME COULDN'T HAVE
DONE, AND IN A WAY THAT
JHIANGNAN AND LINGNAN WERE
FINDING IT INCREASINGLY HARD
TO DO.
THUS, NORMALIZING CHINA
ACTUALLY HELPS US TO SEE HOW
IMPORTANT WERE THE PECULIAR
AND ACCIDENTAL FACTORS IN
THE ATLANTIC CONJUNCTURE
FROM SMALLPOX TO SLAVERY TO
CHINESE DEMAND FOR SILVER,
WHICH KEPT THE PRICE HIGH
ENOUGH TO SUSTAIN SPANISH
ADMINISTRATION IN THE NEW
WORLD, IN LAUNCHING
EUROPE INTO MODERNITY.
OKAY, THAT'S A QUICK TOUR OF
A WAY OF RETHINKING EUROPE'S
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION FROM
THE EAST ASIAN PERSPECTIVE
WHICH IS, OF COURSE,
CONTROVERSIAL.
BUT WHAT I'D LIKE TO DO WITH
THE REST OF MY TIME IS TO
THINK ABOUT SOME OF ITS
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE
POST-1800 WORLD, AND
ESPECIALLY FOR THE POST-1800
WORLD IN EAST ASIA.
IF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
IS SUCH A RADICAL
DISCONTINUITY AFTER ALL,
THEN MAYBE EVERYTHING I'VE
SAID ABOUT PATTERNS OF
GROWTH IN EAST ASIA BEFORE
1800 IS JUST IRRELEVANT TO
THE LATER WORLD ECONOMY.
HOWEVER, I'D LIKE TO
EMPHASIZE VARIOUS LEGACIES
THAT I THINK SHAPE THE
RE-EMERGENCE OF DYNAMISM IN
OLD EAST ASIAN CORES AND THE
EMERGENCE OF ADDITIONAL ONES
IN PLACES LIKE PARTS OF
SOUTH KOREA, SOUTHERN
MANCHURIA, ET CETERA, AND TO
SEE THOSE LEGACIES AS BOTH
ENABLING AND
LIMITING FACTORS.
ON THE ONE HAND, CHINESE
ECOLOGICAL PROBLEMS DID
BECOME SEVERE IN
THE 19th CENTURY.
NOT, INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH,
IN ITS CROWDED CORES, BUT IN
PERIPHERAL AREAS LIKE THE
OVERLOGGED NORTHWEST AND IN
THE COTTON GROWING
REGIONS OF NORTH CHINA.
FIBRE CROPS ARE TOUGH ON THE
SOIL AND NORTH CHINA, UNLIKE
THE LOWER YANGTZE CAN'T
IMPORT BEAN CAKE FERTILIZER
ON A SUFFICIENT SCALE.
THE NORTH CHINA WATER TABLE
ALSO FELL SHARPLY APPARENTLY
BEGINNING SOME TIME AFTER
1840 AND BECOMING CRITICAL
BY THE EARLY 20th CENTURY.
AGAIN, THIS HAPPENS
PARTICULARLY IN AREAS
GROWING VERY THIRSTY COTTON
BUT ALSO IN OTHER AREAS
WHERE AGRICULTURAL YIELDS
PER ACRE WERE BEING PUSHED
UP THROUGH METHODS THAT
ABSORBED INCREASING AMOUNTS
OF LABOUR,
CAPITAL AND WATER.
AND I WANT TO EMPHASIZE
LABOUR, CAPITAL AND WATER,
BECAUSE TOO MANY MODELS JUST
TALK ABOUT ABSORBING MORE
LABOUR AND TREAT THAT AS
SOME SORT OF PECULIAR
EAST ASIAN PATTERN.
IN JAPAN, DAMAGE WAS LESS
SEVERE BUT HERE, TOO, AS
CONRAD TOTMAN PUT IT, LAKE
TOKUGAWA SOCIETY ENCOUNTERED
UNPRECEDENTED DIFFICULTIES IN
REPRODUCING ITS RESOURCE BASE.
OF COURSE EAST ASIAN CORES
DIDN'T JUST SIT THERE WAITING
FOR RESOURCE PRESSURES
TO CLOSE IN ON THEM.
ONE IMPORTANT JAPANESE
RESPONSE WAS A VAST INCREASE
IN OCEAN FISHING, SOME FOR
FOOD, BUT EVEN MORE FOR
FERTILIZER, AGAIN
ESPECIALLY FOR COTTON LAND.
AND THESE INCREASINGLY LARGE
AND FAR FLUNG EXPEDITIONS
WHICH LED TO FREQUENT
ENCOUNTERS WITH RUSSIAN
SAILORS MAY HAVE BEEN ALMOST
AS IMPORTANT AS PERRY'S
BLACK SHIPS IN BRINGING
JAPAN INTO A WIDER WORLD.
IN CHINA, THE YANGTZE DELTA
INCREASINGLY CONCENTRATED ON
HIGHER GRADES OF CLOTH AS
THEIR INTERIOR MARKETS FOR
LOW AND MIDDLE GRADE
CLOTH DRIED UP.
MOVING UP THE VALUE ADDED
LADDER, JUST LIKE A LEADING
REGION IS SUPPOSED TO,
ALBEIT MUCH MORE SLOWLY THAN
SOME EUROPEAN REGIONS SINCE
TECHNOLOGY CHANGED A LOT
SLOWER IN THE ABSENCE OF
A SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION.
THEY ALSO SOLD THIS FINER
CLOTH FURTHER AFIELD, PARTLY
THROUGH EUROPEANS OF COURSE,
BUT ALSO THROUGH THEIR OWN
INCREASING PENETRATION OF
SOUTHEAST ASIA, MANCHURIA
AND OTHER RELATIVELY
LAND RICH REGIONS.
INDEED, MUCH OF THE
CONFUSION IN THE LITERATURE
OVER WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO
THE CHINESE ECONOMY BETWEEN
1850 AND 1950 SEEMS TO ME TO
DISAPPEAR WHEN WE SEE HOW
ITS CONSTITUENT REGIONS WERE
BEING DECOUPLED FROM EACH
OTHER, A PROCESS THAT HAD
BEGUN AS EARLY AS 1750 WHEN
THE PERIPHERAL GROWTH AND
PROTO-INDUSTRIALIZATION I
DISCUSSED EARLIER HAD MADE
SOME INTERIOR REGIONS MORE
AUTARCHIC AND INTER-REGIONAL
TRADE DECLINED MARKEDLY AS A
PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL
ECONOMIC ACTIVITY.
COASTAL REGIONS FOUND NEW
TRADING PARTNERS, OFTEN
ABROAD, AND HOWEVER PAINFUL
THEIR INTEGRATION INTO THE
WIDER WORLD WAS, IT ALSO
PROVIDED OPPORTUNITIES
TO RESUME CORE GROWTH.
THE PROCESS WAS SOMEWHAT
LIKE WHAT ONE SAW IN MEIJI
JAPAN, WHERE JAPAN REALIZED
SIGNIFICANT GAINS FROM THE
EXPORT OF LABOUR INTENSIVE
PRODUCTS LIKE SILK... OVER A
THIRD OF TOTAL JAPANESE
EXPORTS DURING MEIJI... AND
ALSO GAINED FROM TRADE WITH
REGIONS WITH VERY DIFFERENT
FACTOR ENDOWMENTS.
GRANTED, THE GROWTH OF
CHINESE CORES WAS SOMEWHAT
SLOWER IN PART DUE TO WEAKER
GOVERNMENT EFFORTS WHICH
MEANT THERE WAS NO PARALLEL
TO JAPANESE EFFORTS TO
PROMOTE NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND
WHICH PARTICULARLY HAMPERED
THE MORE UNIFORM QUALITY
STANDARDS NEEDED TO COMPETE
WITH JAPAN IN SILK.
AND LATER, OF COURSE, THIS
POLITICAL WEAKNESS IN CHINA
TURNED INTO OUTRIGHT
CHAOS AND CIVIL WAR.
BUT EVEN SO, THE PERFORMANCE
OF THESE CORE REGIONS PLUS
A NEW EMERGING CORE IN
SOUTHERN MANCHURIA IS
QUITE IMPRESSIVE.
YOUR FORMER COLLEAGUE HERE
AT TORONTO, TOM ROSSKY, FOR
INSTANCE, CALCULATES THE PER
CAPITA GROWTH RATE IN THESE
ADVANCED AREAS OF CHINA
BETWEEN 1914 AND 1937 WERE
ACTUALLY ROUGHLY
THE SAME AS JAPAN'S.
THEY JUST ARE SWALLOWED UP IN
A MUCH LARGER OVERALL COUNTRY.
MEANWHILE, SOME OTHER
REGIONS, LIKE THE MIDDLE
YANGTZE, MOSTLY CONTINUED
THE PROCESS OF FILLING UP AN
INTERNAL DIVERSIFICATION
DISCUSSED EARLIER AND HAD
PROBABLY HIT A NEW PLATEAU
BY SOME TIME IN THE EARLY
20th CENTURY, THOUGH
IT'S NOT QUITE CLEAR.
MEANWHILE, SOME OTHER OLDER
PERIPHERIES LIKE NORTH
CHINA, WHICH HAD
PARTICULARLY SERIOUS
ECOLOGICAL PROBLEMS, AND HAD
BEEN UNUSUALLY DEPENDENT ON
STATE HELP IN MANAGING
THEM, AND THEREFORE WERE
PARTICULARLY BADLY HIT WHEN
THE STATE WAS CLOBBERED IN
THE LATE 19th CENTURY,
SUFFERED REAL CATASTROPHES/
AND THEY WERE, IN TURN, THE
SPAWNING GROUND OF MUCH OF
THE CONTINUING POLITICAL
DISORDER THAT KEPT SPILLING
BACK INTO RICHER REGIONS.
THE RESULTING DECADES
OF SOCIAL AND POLITICAL
PROBLEMS NO DOUBT SLOWED
DOWN AGRICULTURAL AND LIGHT
INDUSTRIAL GROWTH, BOTH OF
RURAL AND URBAN INDUSTRY,
QUITE SIGNIFICANTLY.
MOREOVER, A WEAK STATE, A
VERY WEAK STATE FOR MUCH OF
THIS PERIOD, MEANT THAT
THERE WAS NO REAL BASIS FOR
THE SORT OF GOVERNMENT
ENCOURAGED MOVE INTO MORE
CAPITAL INTENSIVE, ENERGY
INTENSIVE, HEAVY INDUSTRIES
THAT JAPAN MADE IN THE 1920s
AND '30s, WHAT WE MIGHT CALL
JAPAN'S GERSCHENKRON DECADES
IN WHICH GOVERNMENT PLAYED
A MUCH LARGER ROLE, AND
WESTERN TECHNOLOGIES WERE
LARGELY COPIED IN ORDER
TO CATCH UP FOR MILITARY
REASONS, RATHER THAN
ADAPTED SO AS TO MAKE JAPAN
COMPLEMENTARY TO
EXISTING ECONOMIES.
BUT IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE
HERE, AS YASABA YASAKICHI
AND OTHERS HAVE SHOWN, THAT
THIS PARTICULAR STRATEGY WAS
LARGELY A FAILURE FOR
JAPAN, NOT ONLY BECAUSE IT
EVENTUALLY LED TO A
DISASTROUS WAR, BUT BECAUSE
IT WAS EXTRAORDINARILY
WASTEFUL AND INEFFICIENT IN
ECONOMIC TERMS, TOO.
AS YASABA SHOWS, IT GREATLY
EXACERBATED THE VERY
RESOURCE SHORTAGES THAT
JAPAN THEN THOUGHT IT NEEDED
TO ALLEVIATE THROUGH WAR,
AND IT PRODUCED MUCH POORER
RESULTS FOR GROWTH AND
WELFARE THAN EITHER THE
LIGHT INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT
OF EARLIER YEARS OR THE VERY
DIFFERENT STRATEGIES THAT
WOULD BE FOLLOWED AFTER 1945.
LET ME PAUSE HERE TO
SEPARATE OUT TWO VERY
DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF MODERN
EAST ASIAN DEVELOPMENT AND
TO NOTE THAT SEPARATELY EACH
IS FOUND IN EUROPE AS WELL
AS IN EAST ASIA.
ON THE ONE HAND, WE HAVE A
RELIANCE ON FAIRLY HEAVY
STATE GUIDANCE IN INDUSTRIAL
INVESTMENT, CORPORATIST
APPROACHES TO LABOUR, LOTS
OF INTERVENTION IN FOREIGN
TRADE IN EXCHANGE,
AND A PUSH FOR RAPID
INDUSTRIALIZATION WITH
PROTECTION AND HIGH RATES OF
REINVESTMENT THAT COMES WITH
SERIOUS SHORT AND MEDIUM
TERM COSTS FOR CONSUMERS.
BUT AS MY ALLUSION TO
GERSCHENKRON'S WORK A MINUTE
AGO SUGGESTS, NONE OF THIS
IS DISTINCTLY EAST ASIAN.
IT CHARACTERIZES MUCH OF
CONTINENTAL EUROPE FOR A
LONG PERIOD OF TIME.
CERTAINLY THE JAPANESE AT
LEAST WERE QUITE CONSCIOUSLY
BUILDING ON CONTINENTAL
EUROPEAN PRECEDENTS,
THOUGH ALSO ON SOME
INDIGENOUS PRACTICES.
THIS STATIST KIND OF
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT HAS
TENDED TO COME TO THE FORE
IN PERIODS OF PERCEIVED
CRISIS AND A HOSTILE
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT.
JAPAN IN EARLY MEIJI AND
AGAIN IN THE '30s WITH A VERY
FEEBLE CHINESE IMITATION BY
THE NATIONALIST STATE IN
THAT SAME PERIOD, AND THEN A
MUCH MORE INTENSE ONE IN THE
YEARS OF SOVIET STYLE
PLANNING AFTER 1949.
SOUTH KOREA AFTER THE
1960 COUP AND SO ON.
AT LEAST FOR CHINA AND
JAPAN, THIS STRATEGY HAS
GONE ALONG WITH LARGE
INVESTMENTS IN VERY CAPITAL
INTENSIVE AND RESOURCE
INTENSIVE INDUSTRIES, EVEN
FOR MILITARY COMPETITION AND
IT HAS TENDED TO NOT PRODUCE
VERY IMPRESSIVE RESULTS.
OTHER ASPECTS OF THE EAST
ASIAN GROWTH PATH, HOWEVER,
HAVE MORE TO DO WITH THE
PERSISTENCE INTO THE
INDUSTRIAL ERA OF WHAT
I'VE TALKED ABOUT TODAY AS
FEATURES SHARED BY EARLY
MODERN CORES ACROSS EURASIA.
LABOUR INTENSIVE FORMS
OF PRODUCTION, THEY'RE
RELATIVELY FRUGAL WITH
LAND AND ENERGY, FLEXIBLE
PRODUCTION THAT RELIES ON
WORKERS SWITCHING AMONG A
VARIETY OF TASKS, AND THE
DEVELOPMENT OF A DIVERSIFIED
RURAL ECONOMY, INCLUDING
LOTS OF RURAL INDUSTRY.
CONSIDER, FOR INSTANCE, THE
CURRENT CHINESE POLICY OF
ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO LEAVE
THE FARM BUT NOT THE VILLAGE
BY PROVIDING INCENTIVES FOR
RURAL INDUSTRY AS WELL AS
THE MUCH LESS SUCCESSFUL
RURAL INDUSTRIALIZATION
DRIVE THROUGH
THE MAOIST PERIOD.
JAPAN AND TAIWAN ALSO HAD
LARGE PERCENTAGES OF THEIR
POPULATION IN INDUSTRY IN
RURAL AREAS AT A MUCH HIGHER
LEVEL OF INCOME AND
INDUSTRIALIZATION MEASURED
HERE AS A PERCENTAGE OF
TOTAL OUTPUT THAN ALMOST ANY
PLACE ELSE.
AND WITH THE EXCEPTION OF
THE MAOIST PERIOD, CHINA,
JAPAN AND TAIWAN HAVE
FOLLOWED A VERY DIFFERENT
TRAJECTORY WITH RESPECT TO
THE USE OF ENERGY PER DOLLAR
OF GDP THAN THE U.S., U.K.,
CANADA, GERMANY, ET CETERA.
THESE NUMBERS,
AGAIN, VERY CRUDE.

A line graph shows the trajectories of Sweden, Japan, the U.K., Canada, the U.S.A., Germany, and France.

Kenneth continues THERE ARE LOTS OF PROBLEMS,
BUT YOU CAN STILL SEE THAT
GENERALLY YOU'VE GOT
TWO KINDS OF CURVES.
YOU HAVE COUNTRIES WHERE IN
EARLY INDUSTRIALIZATION YOU
GET A HUGE INCREASE IN
ENERGY USE PER DOLLAR OF
GDP, AND THEN A GRADUAL
DECLINE AND THEN YOU'VE GOT
CASES LIKE JAPAN, BUT ALSO
INTERESTINGLY LIKE SWEDEN
AND FRANCE, TWO HYDROCARBON
POOR SOCIETIES WITHIN EUROPE
THAT JUST SORT OF TOODLE
ALONG AND NEVER REALLY GET
THE HUGE BUMPS.
TAIWAN FOLLOWS
THE JAPANESE PATH.
SOUTH KOREA, INTERESTINGLY...
WHICH IS DIFFERENT FOR ALL
KINDS OF REASONS... FOLLOWS
A PATH THAT'S SOMEWHAT
INTERMEDIATE AND IN SOME
WAYS ACTUALLY CLOSER TO SOME
OF THE WESTERN ONES.
WHAT I'VE EMPHASIZED TODAY
IS THAT IN MANY WAYS THIS
RESEMBLES THE COMMON
EXPERIENCE OF EUROPEAN AND
THE EAST ASIAN CORES PRIOR
TO 1800, AND THAT IN FACT
BEFORE THE BIG INDUSTRIAL
BREAKTHROUGH PARTS OF EUROPE
FACED WITH SERIOUS RESOURCE
CONSTRAINTS WERE ACTUALLY
BEING FORCED DOWN
INCREASINGLY SO-CALLED
EAST ASIAN PATHS, WHICH MIGHT
HAVE CONTINUED WITHOUT THE
RESOURCE BONANZAS
OF THE 19th CENTURY.
CONSIDER, FOR INSTANCE,
DENMARK WHERE ENORMOUS
INCREASES IN LABOUR
INTENSITY KEPT PER CAPITA
INCOME STEADY OR PERHAPS
SLIGHTLY RISING FROM 1500 TO
1800, AND STAVED OFF
ECOLOGICAL PRESSURES BUT
PRODUCED NO CHANGE IN
URBANIZATION RATES OR
PRESENTED THE
POPULATION IN INDUSTRY.
OR MORE GENERALLY,
THINK BACK TO DE VRIES'
INDUSTRIOUS REVOLUTION AND
REMEMBER THE CONTINUED
DECLINE IN REAL DAY WAGES
IN MOST OF EUROPE OVER THE
EARLY MODERN PERIOD.
WHEN THE NORTHWESTERN
EUROPEAN BREAKTHROUGH CAME,
IT WAS BASED BOTH ON
TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE AND ON
THESE RESOURCE BONANZAS.
IT'S TRUE THAT VARIOUS EAST
ASIAN GOVERNMENTS HAVE BEEN
UNUSUAL IN THE WAYS IN
WHICH THEY HAVE CONSCIOUSLY
PROMOTED THIS EARLY MODERN
PATTERN OF GROWTH THAT I'VE
DESCRIBED INTO INDUSTRIAL
TIMES, PARTLY BECAUSE
THEY'VE BEEN QUITE AWARE
THAT THEY HAD NO COMPARABLE
RESOURCE BONANZA TO DRAW ON
AND PARTLY FOR REASONS THAT
HAVE DEEP ROOTS IN
INDIGENOUS STATECRAFT
AND SOCIAL THOUGHT.
NONETHELESS, THERE'S
SOMETHING DECIDEDLY ODD
ABOUT GIVING THIS STRATEGY
A REGIONALLY SPECIFIC NAME,
CALLING IT THE EAST ASIAN
WAY, WHILE THE NORTH
ATLANTIC EXCEPTION IS
NORMALIZED AS BEING SIMPLY
DEVELOPMENT, WITHOUT
A REGIONAL MODIFIER.
ONE MIGHT INSTEAD SAY THAT
THE WESTERN EUROPEAN STYLE
OF DEVELOPMENT REPRESENTS
A HISTORICALLY ODD CASE,
BASED, AMONG OTHER THINGS,
ON LAND AND ENERGY BONANZAS
AND ALSO ON AN UNUSUALLY
EARLY AND SHARP SEGMENTATION
BETWEEN AGRICULTURAL AND
INDUSTRIAL LABOUR MARKETS AS
FOUND IN ENGLAND BY BOB
ALLAN AND IN HOLLAND BY
JAN DE VRIES.
AT THE VERY LEAST, THIS
SEEMS TO ME A MORE APT WAY OF
SUMMARIZING THE STORY THAN
THE COMMON BELIEF THAT EUROPEAN
DEVELOPMENT WAS MARKED BY
UNUSUALLY PERFECT MARKETS.
ADAM SMITH WAS A
PHILOSOPHER, NOT A HISTORIAN.
IN THE POST-'45 PERIOD, OF
COURSE, ACCESS TO RESOURCES
BECAME FAR LESS OF A PROBLEM
FOR NON-COMMUNIST EAST ASIA.
THE U.S. ESSENTIALLY GUARANTEED
THAT ACCESS FOR JAPAN AND
LATER KOREA AND TAIWAN AS LONG
AS THEY HAD THE INDUSTRIAL
EXPORTS TO PROVIDE.
THEY RESPONDED VERY
SUCCESSFULLY, OFTEN BY
CREATING RESOURCE SAVING
VARIANTS OF WESTERN
PRODUCTS, E.G., SMALLER
CARS, BY EMPHASIZING
MULTIPLE SKILLS RATHER THAN
PURE AFFORDISM, AND BY
LARGELY AVOIDING THE MOST
CAPITAL INTENSIVE AND ENERGY
INTENSIVE SECTORS.
SO EVEN JAPAN, FOR INSTANCE,
NEVER MOVES IN A LARGE WAY
INTO AEROSPACE OR ALUMINUM.
THE SECTORS THEY AVOIDED,
INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, WERE
ONES THAT WERE LESS
IMPORTANT NOW GIVEN THEIR
ACCEPTANCE OF LIFE UNDER
THE U.S. MILITARY UMBRELLA.
EVEN MORE THAN
INDUSTRIALIZING EUROPE, THE
EAST ASIAN ECONOMIES BECAME
DEPENDENT ON IMPORTED
PRIMARY PRODUCTS... FOOD,
FUEL, LUMBER, ET CETERA.
AND THEY'VE GENERALLY
DONE QUITE WELL THAT WAY.
THE RESULT HAS BEEN
CONSIDERABLE, IF INCOMPLETE,
CONVERGENCE OF ECONOMIC
RESULTS AND SOME CONVERGENCE
OF INSTITUTIONS.
AND NOW, FINALLY,
PART THREE.
IN THE LAST 20 YEARS, WE'VE
SEEN SOME OF THE SAME THINGS
START TO HAPPEN ACROSS LARGE
PORTIONS OF EASTERN CHINA.
FOR THE MOST PART THE SAME
REGIONS WHICH I'VE ARGUED
BEGAN TO LOOK FOR FARTHER
FLUNG TRADING PARTNERS, A
COUPLE OF CENTURIES AGO
AND WHICH NOW DO SO ON AN
ENORMOUS SCALE.
IF THIS LATEST EAST ASIAN
SUCCESS WERE TO BE PROJECTED
ACROSS THE REST OF CHINA,
WE WOULD HAVE A STUNNING
EXAMPLE OF CONVERGENCE WHICH
WOULD RENDER THE WEST'S
ADVANTAGES FROM ITS
PRIVILEGED ACCESS TO
RESOURCES IN THE 19th
CENTURY, A HISTORICAL BLIP.
AND SOME PEOPLE DO BELIEVE
THAT'S HAPPENING, BUT ANY
CELEBRATION IS PREMATURE.
FIRST OF ALL, IT'S WORTH
REMEMBERING HOW FAR BEHIND
MOST OF CHINA REMAINS NO
MATTER HOW MUCH ECONOMIC
ACTIVITY THERE IS
IN SOME PLACES.
THREE PROVINCES WITH
17 PERCENT OF CHINA'S
POPULATION HAVE OVER HALF
THE OUTPUT OF ITS BOOMING
TOWNSHIP AND
VILLAGE INDUSTRIES.
OVERALL, CHINA'S 1992 GDP PER
CAPITA WAS ONLY 14 PERCENT
THAT OF THE U.S.
AND THAT'S ROUGHLY THE SAME
AS THE 13 PERCENT THAT ANGUS
MADISON ESTIMATES FOR 1913,
AND ACTUALLY BELOW THE
21 PERCENT HE
ESTIMATES FOR 1870.
SECONDLY, CHINA'S PLACE IN
THE WORLD IS VERY DIFFERENT
FROM THAT OF JAPAN,
TAIWAN AND SOUTH KOREA.
AND TODAY'S WORLD IN GENERAL
IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THAT
OF THE COLD WAR.
THE U.S. LACKS THE SAME
COMPELLING GEOSTRATEGIC REASONS
TO MAKE SURE THAT CHINA'S
INDUSTRIAL MACHINE SUFFERS
NO RESOURCE CONSTRAINTS THAN
IT HAD FOR JAPAN, TAIWAN AND
KOREA, BUT CLEARLY IT
DOES HAVE A STAKE IN SEEING
SOME CONTINUED GROWTH THERE.
AND EVEN IF IT WANTED TO
EXTEND SUCH A GUARANTEE,
IT'S NOT AT ALL CLEAR IT
COULD GIVEN CHINA'S SIZE.
IT SEEMS QUITE UNLIKELY
THAT JAPAN COULD EVER BE
16 KOREAS OR 10 JAPANS NO
MATTER HOW SUCCESSFUL ITS
INDUSTRIAL STRATEGIES.
CHINA'S ENERGY NEEDS
INCREASINGLY OUTSTRIP
DOMESTIC PRODUCTION.
ITS OIL IMPORTS WILL
PROBABLY SURPASS THE U.S.'
AROUND 2015 AND AS AT LEAST
PART OF CHINA'S POPULATION
TRIES TO MOVE UP THE FOOD
CHAIN TO A MORE PROTEIN-RICH
DIET, IT FACES SOME
SERIOUS PROBLEMS.
THE WEST GOT THE
LIVESTOCK LAND.
THE EARLIER EAST ASIAN
SUCCESS STORIES GOT MOST
OF THE FISH.
IT'S NOT ENTIRELY
CLEAR WHAT'S LEFT.
THERE ARE SOME THINGS ALSO
THAT ONE CAN'T IMPORT
READILY, LIKE WATER.
AND IT'S NOT CLEAR THAT
OTHER POWERFUL STATES ARE
INTERESTED IN ACCEPTING THE
LEVEL OF INDUSTRIAL IMPORTS
OR ALLOWING PRIMARY PRODUCTS
TO RISE AS HIGH AS THEY
MIGHT HAVE TO FOR CHINA TO
CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THE ROUTE
IT'S BEEN FOLLOWING.
EVEN FAR SHORT OF THAT
REMOTE CONTINGENCY, FURTHER
CHINESE GROWTH RAISES SOME
SERIOUS ECOLOGICAL QUESTIONS.
THESE FIGURES ACTUALLY
COME FROM ANOTHER SCHOLAR,
A SCHOLAR IN MANITOBA
NAMED VACLAV SMIL.

A chart shows the physical requirements of 10 more years of Chinese growth, including energy equal to the total output of Brazil and grains equal to the total output of Canada.

Kenneth continues THEY ARE TO BE TAKEN WITH
GRAINS OF SALT BECAUSE ALL
SUCH PROJECTIONS ALWAYS ARE,
BUT THEY GIVE YOU A SENSE OF
THE AMOUNT OF VARIOUS THINGS
NEEDED PER YEAR FIRST JUST
TO MAINTAIN PER CAPITA
OUTPUT AS THE POPULATION GROWS.
IN THE RIGHT-HAND COLUMN IS
THAT INCREASE IS EQUAL TO
THE CURRENT TOTAL OUTPUT
OF SUCH AND SUCH A PLACE.

A new chart shows the amount of energy, coal, electricity, grain and nitrogen needed per capital GNP for a growth of 2 percent over the next 10 years.

Kenneth continues THE BOTTOM CHART DOES THE
SAME THING ASSUMING JUST
2 PERCENT PER CAPITA GDP
GROWTH, WHICH IN FACT IS
LOWER THAN CHINA HAS HAD.
THE BOTTOM LINE, I THINK, IS
THAT ANY CONTINUED CHINESE
GROWTH NOT ONLY REQUIRES
SOME LOCAL PALLIATIVES FOR
RESOURCE PROBLEMS, BUT
PERHAPS THAT OTHER PARTS OF
THE WORLD ALSO CONTINUE
THEIR RECENT TREND TOWARDS
LESS ENERGY INTENSIVE AND
RESOURCE GOBBLING PRACTICES.
THE CYBER ECONOMY IS PERHAPS
A STEP IN THAT DIRECTION.
CERTAINLY THESE KINDS OF
ISSUES CONCERN PLANNERS
IN BEIJING.
IT WAS VERY BIZARRE, BUT
IN ANOTHER WAY ALSO RATHER
LOGICAL TO READ EXCERPTS
LAST YEAR FROM A
FAST-SELLING BOOK BY A
RETIRED CHINESE NAVAL
PLANNER WHO IN WEIRD WAYS
MIXES REFERENCES TO ALFRED
THAYER MAHAN AND TO THE
WORLD WATCH INSTITUTE IN
CALLING FOR CHINA TO QUICKLY
SECURE MORE UNDERSEA
RESOURCES TO SUPPLEMENT
ITS LIMITED LAND BASE.
NOT ACTUALLY A VERY
LIKELY SCENARIO, BUT IT'S
INTERESTING THAT IT'S
BEING TALKED ABOUT.
MEANWHILE, CHINA'S LOCALIST
VERSION OF CORPORATISM
EXACERBATES MANY OF THESE
ENVIRONMENTALIST PROBLEMS.
THE LOCAL INDUSTRY AND
SELF-RELIANCE HAS A NICE
ECO-FRIENDLY RING TO IT.
TOWNSHIP AND VILLAGE
ENTERPRISES OFTEN SHIELDED
BY LOCAL OFFICIALS BECAUSE
OF THEIR TIE TO LOCAL
BUDGETS TEND TO BE FAR MORE
WASTEFUL OF ENERGY THAN
URBAN CHINESE FIRMS
AND FAR MORE POLLUTING.
AND CONTINUING A HIGH
DEGREE OF AGRICULTURAL
SELF-RELIANCE, WHEN ONE HAS
22 PERCENT OF THE WORLD'S
POPULATION ON 7 PERCENT OF
THE LAND, THOUGH IT ALSO
SOUNDS NICE AND VIRTUOUS,
IT REQUIRES THE USE OF SUCH
EXTRAORDINARY AMOUNTS OF
FERTILIZER AND IRRIGATION
WATER THAT IN THE LONGER RUN
IT PRESENTS A RATHER SCARY
PICTURE, BOTH FOR CHINA
AND THE REST OF US.
WELL, IF CHINA CAN'T RELY
INDEFINITELY ON THE SAME
PATH THAT THE OTHER EAST
ASIAN ECONOMIES HAVE
FOLLOWED, WHAT OTHER
OPTIONS DOES IT HAVE?
ONE THAT'S BEING
PURSUED WITH INCREASING
DETERMINATION IS A MAJOR
PUSH TO DEVELOP THE
RESOURCES OF
CHINA'S FAR WEST.
FOR A LONG TIME THESE HAVE
NOT BEEN TAPPED VERY MUCH
WITH A FEW STRATEGIC
EXCEPTIONS LIKE
XINJIANG'S URANIUM.
PART OF THE REASON THAT THEY
HAVEN'T BEEN TAPPED THAT
MUCH IS THAT DOING SO WOULD
BE EXPENSIVE, ESPECIALLY
SINCE RELIANCE ON MASSIVE
LABOUR MOBILIZATIONS IS NOT
REALLY AN OPTION IN THESE
SPARSELY POPULATED REGIONS.
BUT MUCH OF IT HAS ALSO BEEN
A LONG-STANDING FEELING THAT
BEIJING'S GRIP ON THESE
REGIONS WAS SOMEWHAT SHAKY,
THAT SECURITY CAME FIRST
AND HERE COMMUNIST LEADERS
SOUNDING MUCH LIKE CHING
ONES IRONICALLY, THAT IT
WASN'T ALWAYS CLEAR THAT
RAPID DEVELOPMENT IN THOSE
AREAS WAS WORTH THE
POLITICAL COSTS OF DISRUPTING
THE WAY OF LIFE OF SO-CALLED
MINORITY NATIONALITIES.
AND YOU HEAR AN ECHO OF
THOSE CHING POLICIES FOR
NON HAN AREAS THAT I
TALKED ABOUT BEFORE.
BUT IN RECENT YEARS, THERE'S
BEEN A STEADY DRUMBEAT OF
POLICY PAPERS POINTING OUT
THAT FAR WEST HAS, FOR
INSTANCE, HUGE AMOUNTS
OF HYDRO POTENTIAL.

A map of China pops up showing certain areas in the north, the southwest and the mid-east highlighted.

Kenneth continues HERE'S A MAP OF WHERE
CHINA'S REMAINING WATER
RESOURCES ARE.
AND THERE'S THE BIG NUMBER.
70 PERCENT OF THEM
IN THE SOUTHWEST.
TIBET ALONE ACTUALLY HAS
A THIRD OF CHINA'S HYDRO
POTENTIAL AND CHINA ACTUALLY
HAS MORE HYDRO POTENTIAL
THAN ANY COUNTRY
IN THE WORLD.
TIBET ALSO HAS AN ENDOWMENT
OF CLEAN FRESH WATER THAT IS
LARGER PER CAPITA THAN
CANADA, WHICH IS THE BEST
ENDOWED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD
WITH FRESH WATER PER CAPITA,
AND EVEN SEMI-ARID XINJIANG
UP IN THE NORTHWEST ACTUALLY
HAS MASSIVE UNDERGROUND
WATER SUPPLIES.
ONE OF THE THINGS ONE
NOTICES... I WANT TO PUT UP
TWO MORE MAPS QUICKLY.

Now another map of China shows the main rivers and several black spots on them.

Kenneth continues THIS IS A MAP OF HYDRO
INSTALLATIONS THAT WERE
EITHER BUILT OR UNDERWAY BY
1986, AND YOU'LL SEE THAT
THEY'RE SPREAD ALL OVER THE
PLACE DESPITE THE FACT THAT
MOST OF THE HYDRO
POTENTIAL IS IN THE WEST.
RIGHT.
WATER HAS MORE POWER
POTENTIAL WHEN IT'S UP HIGH
AND THE YANGTZE RIVER, FOR
INSTANCE, COMPLETES 90 PERCENT
OF ITS DROP BEFORE
IT ENTERS CHINA PROPER.
BUT PARTLY FOR POLITICAL
REASONS LOOK WHERE THE DAMS
BUILT BEFORE '86 WERE.

Another similar map shows several spots in the southwest of the country.

Kenneth continues NOW LOOK AT WHERE THE DAMS
THAT HAVE BEEN PLACED ON THE
DRAWING BOARD MORE RECENTLY
ARE, AND YOU GET A REAL
CLUSTER IN THE SOUTHWEST,
FOLLOWING NOW THE GEOLOGY
AND HYDROLOGY AND MORE OR
LESS SAYING DAMN THE POLITICS,
FULL SPEED AHEAD.
PART OF THE REASON FOR
THIS IS THE HOPE THAT SUCH
DEVELOPMENT WILL RELIEVE
RESOURCE SHORTAGES IN
EASTERN CHINA AND PROVIDE AN
ALTERNATIVE TO MORE IMPORTS,
BUT EQUALLY IMPORTANT,
THE REGIME SEEMS TO HAVE
DECIDED, FOR BETTER OR
WORSE, THAT IN THE LONG RUN
THE ONLY WAY TO CREATE
STABILITY IN WESTERN CHINA
ITSELF IS THROUGH
RAISING LIVING STANDARDS,
WHICH TENDS TO GO ALONG WITH
ASSIMILATIONIST POLICIES.
THE ASSUMPTION NOW, IN
CONTRAST TO THE CHING AND
CERTAIN PERIODS OF THE
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC, IS THAT
THERE'S A MODERN CONSUMER
TRAPPED INSIDE EVEN THE MOST
SO-CALLED TRADITIONAL PEOPLE
AND THAT IN THE LONG RUN,
KARAOKE BARS WILL DO
MORE THAN TROOPS TO MAKE
TIBETANS, NORTHWESTERN
MUSLIMS, ET CETERA, GIVE UP
THEIR SEPARATIST IDEAS.
IN THE LAST DECADE, WE'VE
SEEN LOTS OF RESTRICTIONS ON
HAN MIGRATION TO THE FAR
WEST FALL AND BE REPLACED
IN SOME CASES BY
INCENTIVES TO MIGRATE.
WE'VE SEEN A NUMBER OF
MASSIVE HYDRO PROJECTS THAT
WERE PREVIOUSLY OFF-LIMITS,
INCLUDING SACRED LAKES LIKE
YAMDROK-TSO IN TIBET, AND
WE'VE SEEN THE SUDDEN, OFTEN
QUITE DRACONIAN ENFORCEMENT
OF NATIONAL BIRTH CONTROL
POLICIES ON MINORITY
POPULATIONS PREVIOUSLY
EXEMPT FROM IT.
WHEN PREMIER ZHU RONGJI
SPOKE LAST YEAR OF MAKING
CHINA'S FAR WEST INTO...
THESE ARE
HIS
WORDS...
ANOTHER CALIFORNIA, RATHER
THAN A CONSTANT RECIPIENT OF
GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES, HE WAS
CLEARLY ENGAGING IN WHAT FOR
HIM IS A VERY UNUSUAL
FLIGHT OF FANCY.
BUT THERE'S A REALITY HERE
ALSO THAT SHOULDN'T BE MISSED.
WE ARE PROBABLY SEEING
THE LAST GASP OF THE OLD
IMPERIAL PATERNALISM TOWARDS
MINORITIES ON THE FRONTIER.
AND OF TREATING CHINESE
INNER ASIA AS A SECURITY
ZONE WHICH, UNLIKE THE
EMPIRES OF MOST WESTERN
POWERS, IT WAS CONSIDERED
TO BE OKAY TO HAVE RUNNING
AT AN ECONOMIC LOSS.
IT'S IRONIC THAT THIS IS
BEING PROMOTED AS PART OF
A STRATEGY FOR
ECONOMIC CATCH-UP.
IT IN SOME WAYS ECHOES
THE... WHAT I'VE CALLED THE
GERSCHENKRON APPROACH.
NOT THAT GERSCHENKRON
ADVOCATED IT, BUT HE
DESCRIBED IT.
ONE THAT EMPHASIZES CAPITAL
INTENSIVE, LAND GOBBLING
EFFORTS TO FIND MORE
RESOURCES SO AS TO BE ABLE
TO PRODUCE THE SAME GOODS,
INCLUDING MILITARY ONES, AS
LEADING ECONOMIES, RATHER
THAN RESOURCE SAVING APPROACHES
WHICH... AND PURSUING
COMPLEMENTARY NICHES, WHICH
HAVE GENERALLY DISTINGUISHED
EAST ASIAN DEVELOPMENT.
IT'S ALSO ONE THAT INVOLVES
A GOVERNMENT SPONSORED PUSH
FOR RELATIVE SELF-RELIANCE
OF A SORT THAT WE'VE SEEN GO
BADLY BEFORE, AND IN THE CASE
OF A LOT OF WESTERN CHINESE
DEVELOPMENT IT'S ALSO ONE
THAT NOW INVOLVES A VERY
HEAVY MILITARY ROLE.
IF THIS IS CONVERGENCE, IT'S
TOWARDS SOME PARTICULARLY
GERSCHENKRONIAN VERSION OF
THE EUROPEAN PATH WITH A
HEAVY DOSE OF THE
EXPLOITATION OF COLONIES
OR INTERNAL COLONIES.
IT'S NOT CONVERGENCE TOWARDS
AN ADAM SMITH OR DOUGLAS
NORTH MODEL OF ECONOMIC
GROWTH, WHICH WAS ALWAYS
ONLY PART OF THE
WESTERN STORY ANYWAY.
OF COURSE, GOVERNMENT
SPONSORED INTERNALLY FOCUSED
RESOURCE-GOBBLING
DEVELOPMENT MIGHT WORK
BETTER THIS TIME THAN THE
LAST TIME CHINA TRIED IT.
IT'S NOT CLEAR HOW MUCH
CHOICE CHINA HAS, GIVEN THE
LIMITS I'VE SUGGESTED ON ITS
ABILITY TO KEEP FOLLOWING
THE JAPAN, TAIWAN, EAST
CHINA TRADE ORIENTED
APPROACH INDEFINITELY.
BUT THE RISKS ARE ENORMOUS,
ESPECIALLY GIVEN THE
FRAGILITY OF THESE FAR
WESTERN ECOLOGIES.
ALREADY RAPID LUMBERING ON
THE STEEP HILLSIDES OF TIBET IS
CAUSING
HORRIFIC PROBLEMS.
AND FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF
THE MINORITY PEOPLE IN THIS
REGION, A PLAN TO TRY AND
IMITATE THE DEVELOPMENT
PATTERN OF THE AMERICAN WEST
IS NOT ENTIRELY ENCOURAGING.
IT'S INTERESTING THAT, AS
FAR AS I KNOW, THE MOST
FORCEFUL CRITIQUE OF THIS
PUSH FOR PRIMARY PRODUCT
EXPORTS FROM CHINA'S FAR
WEST THAT'S BEEN MADE WITHIN
CHINA ITSELF COMES FROM THE
ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, WHOSE
RECENT REPORT EMPHASIZES ITS
PROBABLE ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS
AND ITS INEFFICIENCY IN
PROMOTING WELFARE RELATIVE
TO A GREATER FOCUS ON LABOUR
INTENSIVE PRODUCTS FOR
EXPORT AND COMMODITY REPORTS
FROM THE WIDER WORLD,
SOMETHING WHICH, HOWEVER
LOGICAL, MAKES BOTH BEIJING
AND MANY OTHER
GOVERNMENTS NERVOUS.
THE CONUNDRUMS CREATED
BY TRYING TO CATCH UP TO
WESTERN GROWTH WITHOUT
FAVOURABLE RESOURCE SHOCKS
LIKE THOSE THE WEST HAD IN
EARLY DEVELOPMENT REMAIN,
I WOULD SUBMIT, VERY REAL.
THUS, WHILE IN RECENT YEARS
WE'VE HEARD MANY PEOPLE
PROCLAIM THE IMPOSSIBILITY
OF GENERALIZING SOME SALIENT
FEATURES OF THE EAST ASIAN
GROWTH MODEL, AT LEAST THE
SIMPLER WESTERN TRIUMPHALIST
ARGUMENTS WE'VE HEARD SINCE
THE JAPANESE BUBBLE BURST
MISS A NUMBER OF THINGS.
THEY MISS THE WAYS IN WHICH
THE EAST ASIAN MODEL ISN'T
JUST EAST ASIAN.
THEY MISS THE WAYS IN WHICH
RATHER THAN SEEING IT AS A
DEVIATION FROM NORMALITY, WE
OUGHT TO SEE AT LEAST SOME
PARTS OF IT AS CONTINUING
WHAT ONCE WAS NORMALITY
ALL OVER THE PLACE.
AND THEY MISS THE FACT THAT
IT HAS CERTAIN FEATURES,
THOUGH NOT, I WOULD SAY,
THE STATIST ONES, THAT ARE
ACTUALLY RATHER APPEALING,
PARTICULARLY IN TERMS OF
RESOURCE CONSERVATION AND
THAT THE ALTERNATIVE, THE
REALISTIC ALTERNATIVE, FOR
CHINA AT LEAST, TO CURRENT
POLICIES MAY BE NOT
LIBERALIZATION AS WE THINK
OF IT, BUT A MUCH LESS
APPEALING FORM OF STATISM.
IN PART, I THINK THIS IS
BECAUSE WHAT THESE CRITIQUES
OFTEN OVERLOOK ARE
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN MODERN
FEATURES OF THE EAST ASIAN
MODEL AND ANOTHER MORE BASIC
FEATURE, GROWTH PATTERNS
THAT HAVE HAD TO BE BOTH
LABOUR AND CAPITAL INTENSIVE
TO ADDRESS SCARCITIES OF
LAND AND ENERGY.
SUCH SCARCITIES WERE ONCE
UNIVERSAL, BUT LOOSENED
CONSIDERABLY AT A CRUCIAL
INFLEXION POINT ALONG
WESTERN GROWTH PATHS.
THE SPREAD OF GROWTH MAY
WELL REQUIRE THAT NEW
DEVELOPERS LOOK VERY CLOSELY
AT SOME OF THESE FEATURES OF
THE SUPPOSEDLY EAST ASIAN
PATH AND THAT CERTAIN
FEATURES BE CONTINUED,
RATHER THAN ABANDONED, WHILE
CERTAIN FEATURES OF WHAT ONE
MIGHT CALL A MODERN WESTERN
DEVIATION FROM THESE OLDER
PATTERNS ALSO COME IN
FOR SERIOUS SCRUTINY.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

[applause]

Classical music plays as the end credits roll.

Comments and queries, email: bigideas@tvo.org

Telephone: (416) 484-2746.

Big Ideas, TVONTARIO, Box 200, Station Q, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. M4T 2T1.

Producer, Wodek Szemberg.

Associate Producer, Mike Miner.

Sound, Maurice Dalzot.

Executive Producer, Doug Grant.

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 2001, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

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