Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

The Economic History of China
From Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century

$110.00 (P)

  • Date Published: April 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107030565

$ 110.00 (P)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Paperback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

This title is not currently available for examination. However, if you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • China's extraordinary rise as an economic powerhouse in the past two decades poses a challenge to many long-held assumptions about the relationship between political institutions and economic development. Economic prosperity also was vitally important to the longevity of the Chinese Empire throughout the preindustrial era. Before the eighteenth century, China's economy shared some of the features, such as highly productive agriculture and sophisticated markets, found in the most advanced regions of Europe. But in many respects, from the central importance of irrigated rice farming to family structure, property rights, the status of merchants, the monetary system, and the imperial state's fiscal and economic policies, China's preindustrial economy diverged from the Western path of development. In this comprehensive but accessible study, Richard von Glahn examines the institutional foundations, continuities and discontinuities in China's economic development over three millennia, from the Bronze Age to the early twentieth century.

    • The first comprehensive survey of Chinese economic history in English
    • Provides even coverage of the key economic developments in over 3,000 years of Chinese history
    • Written without jargon, and addressed to a wide range of student and scholarly audiences
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Richard von Glahn, one of the leading historians of China's middle period, has written the first truly comprehensive economic history of China in English. Giving due consideration to the role of geography, natural endowment, and a changing ideological, social and political landscape, Von Glahn's masterful synthesis is destined to become the go-to reference on the forces that shaped China's political economy from the Bronze Age to the end of the last dynasty."
    Madeleine Zelin, Columbia University

    "This book promises to be the most timely and ambitious scholarly attempt to construct a new historical narrative of the Chinese past that provides a reliable foundation to comprehend China today. What makes Professor von Glahn's new story cogent and path-breaking is the solid scholarship in theory and historiography that is always a hallmark of his works."
    Billy Kee-long So, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

    "In one volume, Richard von Glahn offers a coherent and erudite account of three millennia of Chinese economic history. Synthesizing a huge variety of source materials, the book contains both an impressive update and thought-provoking insights on the major debates and paradigms in Chinese economic history. A remarkable achievement and a must-read for scholars and students of the Chinese economy and economic history in general."
    Debin Ma, London School of Economics and Political Science

    'This is the kind of book that will almost certainly enjoy a long shelf life, like some of the most recognizable titles on China’s long-term history … I strongly recommend this book to students of Chinese history, East Asian history and world/global history.' Kent G. Deng, EH.Net

    'This is the first book in English to offer a comprehensive account of economic history in China. It takes a step further towards freeing the field from the shackles of Western economic perspective by producing a refreshingly unapologetic narrative … This book avoids economic jargon and keeps the use of Chinese terms to a necessary minimum, thus also making it a suitable resource for historians of other disciplines and world regions … readers are left to make their own conclusions and will undoubtedly find this book a rich platform for future discussion and debate.' Christopher Rea, Ming Studies

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107030565
    • length: 476 pages
    • dimensions: 237 x 153 x 26 mm
    • weight: 0.87kg
    • contains: 24 b/w illus. 33 maps 53 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The Bronze Age economy (1045 to 707 BCE)
    2. From city-state to autocratic monarchy (707 to 250 BCE)
    3. Economic foundations of the universal empire (250 to 81 BCE)
    4. Magnate society and the estate economy (81 BCE to 485 CE)
    5. The Chinese-nomad synthesis and the reunification of the empire (485 to 755)
    6. Economic transformation in the Tang-Song transition (755 to 1127)
    7. The heyday of the Jiangnan economy (1127 to 1550)
    8. The maturation of the market economy (1550 to 1800)
    9. Domestic crises and global challenges: restructuring the imperial economy (1800 to 1900)

  • Author

    Richard von Glahn, University of California, Los Angeles
    Richard von Glahn is Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he has taught Chinese and world history since 1987. His primary field of research is the economic history of premodern China, with a particular focus on the period 1000–1700. He has previously published three monographs in Chinese history, including Fountain of Fortune: Money and Monetary Policy in China, 1000–1700 (1996) and The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture (2004), several edited books, and a co-authored textbook in world history, Crossroads and Cultures: A History of the World (2012). The present book has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation. Von Glahn's current research focuses on monetary and commercial circulation in maritime East Asia from the eighth to the seventeenth centuries.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.