chapter  12
31 Pages

Market integration in China, AD 960–1644

WithLIU GUANGLIN

Introduction This chapter explores the market performance in pre-industrial China by comparing food prices and per capita money stocks in the Song (AD 960-1279) and Ming dynasties (AD 1368-1644). As recent economic research seems to show, macrolevel stability based on increasing market performance is a necessary, although not sufficient, condition for pre-industrial growth. This increase in a pre-industrial economy would reduce the price volatility caused by harvest failures and promote specialization of production. All this advances agricultural productivity and improves the living standard of farmers and consumers alike.1 Other studies in this book have already identified a few contributing factors that help to explain market performance (i.e. lower conditional price volatility): trade, farming technology (increasing output), storage, consumption (if people started to diversify their consumption), institutions/government and monetary developments (which affect income and prices). However, in this chapter, because of the large monetary changes that occurred in China in the period under study, I focus my analysis on long-term changes in money stocks from the Song to the Ming dynasties to define and explain the performance of food markets in these nearly seven centuries.