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By Bozhong Li

The writer makes a thorough research of adjustments in key components of construction and in styles of growth in agricultural creation in China's Yangzi delta in the course of the 3 centuries earlier than 1850, leading to a rise in either land and hard work productiveness.

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Extra resources for Agricultural Development in Jiangnan, 1620–1850

Sample text

There are three aspects to changes in cultivated land: (a) changes in the amount of cultivated land; (b) changes in the quality of cultivated land; (c) changes in the utilization of cultivated land, principal among which are changes in the choice of crops, including changes in the annual rotations and multi-cropping. Amounts of cultivated land Like population, cultivated area is a very difficult topic to research in premodern Chinese economic history. However, for Qing Jiangnan, the problems of cultivated land are easier to resolve than those for population, because the amount of arable land was more or less achieved by the late Ming and remained stable for the next two hundred years, although there are some small differences in the levels represented in official figures.

Therefore, though the estimate I use of 10 per cent as the proportion of non-agricultural rural population in Ming-Qing Jiangnan must be a bit too low and the 1620 real percentage must have been a bit different to that of 1850, we still consider it more reliable than other altematives. 3 Furthermore, too low or too conservative an estimate will only strengthen the conclusions I will reach later. How many persons did a peasant household (or a nuclear peasant family) have in Jiangnan in the Ming and Qing times?

Changes in farm labour productivity are closely associated with changes in farm size. While the average size of peasant family farms declined in early and mid-Qing Jiangnan, this reduction can be attributed more to the intensification of agriculture than to changes in the man-land ratio. In Jiangnan, the optimum farm size under the regime of double cropping of rice with winter crops was about ten mu of land per worker. Therefore, when the expression 'one man works ten mu' (yi fu shi mu) gradually became the norm of farm size, the labour productivity of peasant males clearly rose.

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