Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

China Historical Data at the IISH


Our aim

For a long time now, there has been a real lack of historical data on the economy and society of China. Recently, some volumes have appeared dealing with, for example, price series as well as with some other isolated topics, but a systematic overview of long-run data is still lacking. This lack becomes increasingly problematic due to increasing reliance of various disciplines in social sciences such as history, economy, political studies on the availability of long-run data. Therefore, in a combined effort of several Western and Chinese scholars and research institutions, a statistics project, hosted at the IISH, was set up to collect data for the compilation of a Chinese historical statistics from ca. 960 AD to the present

Persons involved

Involved at the IISH

Dr Bas van Leeuwen (IISH senior researcher and project leader)

Prof. Dr Xuyi (Guangxi Normal University)

Prof. Dr Christine Moll-Murata

Prof. Dr Ni Yuping

Eef Vermeij

Zhang Zipeng, MA

Jieli Li, BA

Visiting fellows

Prof dr. Yuan Weipeng (CASS), visiting fellow 2016

Dr. Guo Yongqin (Fudan University), visiting fellow 2016-2017

China data publications

The IISH will be publishing the 'Quantitative History of China' book series.  This will be a series of monographs with historical data on certain times and topics within the long Chinese history. Forthcoming publications:


1. Shi Zhihong (2015), Central Government Silver Treasury: Revenue, Expenditure and Inventory Statistics, ca. 1667-1899, Brill.

2. Ni Yuping (2016), Customs duties in the Qing dynasty, ca. 1644-1911, Brill.

3. Shi Zhihong (2017, forthcoming), Qing dynasty agricultural production, Brill.

4. Xu Yi, Zhang Zipeng, and Bas van Leeuwen (2017, forthcoming), Regional industrial production in Republican China, Brill.

5. Chen Zhengping (2017, forthcoming), International Trade in Modern China, Brill.

6.  Cao Shuji (2017, forthcoming), Chinese Population, ca. 1368-1980, Brill.

Other publications

  • Xu,Yi, Shi,Zhihong, Bas, van Leeuwen, Ni, Yuping, Zhang,Zhipeng and Ye Ma (2016), "Chinese National Income, ca. 1661-1933" Australian Economic History Review, forthcoming.
  • Bas van Leeuwen and Xuyi, 'Zhongguo Gongye de Changqi Biaoxian jiqi Quanqiu Bijiao:1850-2010Nian-Yi Zengjiazhi Hesuan wei Zhongxin (The performance of Chinese Industry in a World Perspective, ca. 1850-2012: a value added approach)', Zhongguo Jingjishi Yanjiu (Journal of Chinese Economic history research) , Vol. 5 2016, pp. 39-50.
  • Bas van Leeuwen, Dmitry Didenko and Péter Földvári, 'Inspiration vs. Perspiration in Economic Development of the Former Soviet Union and China (ca. 1920–2010), Economics of Transition , Vol. 23 (1) 2015, pp. 213-246.
  • Bas van Leeuwen, 'Nongye Geming De Lianghua: Ping Shi Zhihong (The Quantification of The Agricultural Revolution: A Review of Shi Zhihong's ', Zhongguo Jingjishi Yanjiu (Journal of Chinese Economic history research) , Vol. 5 2015, pp. 31-37.
  • Yuping Ni and Yi Xu, and Bas van Leeuwen, 'Zhongguo Lishi Shiqi Jingji Zongliang Guzhi Yanjiu: Yi GDP De Cesuan Wei Zhongxin (An overview of research on the historical size of the Chinese economy: focusing on estimation of historical GDP)', Zhongguo Shehui Kexue (Social Science in China) , Vol. 5 2015, pp. 187-202.
  • Bas van Leeuwen, Reinhard Pirgruber, and Jieli van Leeuwen-Li, 'The standard of living in ancient societies: a comparison between the Han Empire, the Roman Empire, and Babylonia,' Working Papers 0045, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History. The global and long-term development of real wages: methods, problems and possibilities, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Version 2, March 2013. (pdf, 24 pp, 1071Kb).
  • Xu Yi and Bas van Leeuwen, 'A re-estimation of mass literacy in China in the 19th century,’ Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of History: Qing Forum, (2012). (with Xuyi) (in Chinese)
  • Xu Yi, Péter Földvári and Bas van Leeuwen, 2013, 'Human capital in Qing China: economic determinism or a history of failed opportunities?,' MPRA Paper 43525, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Bas van Leeuwen, Jieli van Leeuwen-Li, and Péter Földvári, 2011,'Regional human capital in Republican and New China: Its spread, quality and effects on economic growth,' MPRA Paper 43582, University Library of Munich, Germany.

Related Research projects


Some highlights of the IISH collections:

IISH has a large collection of books, posters, archives on China:

The IISH also preserves the Papers of Marx and Engels:

Marx/Engels archive online