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Famine, Revolt, and the Dynastic Cycle: Population Dynamics in Historic China

C Y Cyrus Chu and Ronald Lee

Journal of Population Economics, 1994, vol. 7, issue 4, pages 351-78

Abstract: Historians have long noticed that population declines in ancient China often coincided with dynasty changes, and that most of these declines were the result of iternecine wars which, in turn, were often initiated by famine or density pressure. Since the interactions between density pressure, internecine wars, and dynasty changes cannot be explained by the traditional age-specific density-dependent population structure, we propose to use a bandit/peasant/ruler occupation-specific population model to interpret the dynamic socio-economic transitions of ancient Chinese population, and provide econometric support to our model. We also highlight the rich dynamics of the composition of human population, a factor which was often neglected in previous research on general populations.

Date: 1994
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