EH409      Half Unit
Chinese Economic History: Culture, Institutions and Economic Growth

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Melanie Meng Xue SAR 612


This course is available on the MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research), MSc in Financial History, MSc in Global Economic History, MSc in Global Economic History (Erasmus Mundus), MSc in International and Asian History and MSc in Political Economy of Late Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Students enrolled in this course are expected to have completed at least introductory undergraduate courses in statistics and/or econometrics. 

Course content

The course provides a broad but selective survey of the root causes of economic development and economic growth in China. The course is based on cutting-edge research --- both articles and book chapters --- on a number of topics, including (1) Geography, (2) Institutions, (3) Culture, (4) Gender and Demography, (5) Human Capital, (6) Social Mobility, (7) Trade & Markets, (8) Environment & Disasters. 


20 hours of seminars in the AT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the AT.

Indicative reading

  • Richard von Glahn, The Economic History of China: From Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press), 2016;
  • Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence, China, Europe and the making of the modern world economy (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton UP), 2000;
  • Roy Bin Wong, China transformed: historical change and the limits of European experience (Cornell University Press), 1997.
  • Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, Mark Koyama, Youhong Lin and Tuan-Hwee Sng (2023), The Fractured-Land Hypothesis, The Quarterly Journal of Economics 138. 2, 1173–1231. 
  • Avner Greif and Guido Tabellini (2010). “Cultural and institutional bifurcation: China and Europe compared”. American Economic Review 100.2, 135–40.
  • Carol H Shiue and Wolfgang Keller (2007). “Markets in China and Europe on the Eve of the Industrial Revolution”. American Economic Review 97.4, 1189–1216. 


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the spring exam period.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2022/23: 13

Average class size 2022/23: 13

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills