The Needham Puzzle: Why the Industrial Revolution Did Not Originate in China

  title={The Needham Puzzle: Why the Industrial Revolution Did Not Originate in China},
  author={Justin Yifu Lin},
  journal={Economic Development and Cultural Change},
  pages={269 - 292}
  • J. Lin
  • Published 1 January 1995
  • Economics, History
  • Economic Development and Cultural Change
One of the most intriguing issues for students of Chinese history and comparative economic history is, Why did the Industrial Revolution not occur in China in the fourteenth century? At that time, almost every element that economists and historians usually considered to be a major contributing factor to the Industrial Revolution in late eighteenth-century England also existed in China. Chinese civilization, like the civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and India, originated from agriculture… 

Development and Its Deadlock in Imperial China, 221 b.c.–1840 a.d.*

  • K. Deng
  • Economics, History
    Economic Development and Cultural Change
  • 2003
I. The Chinese Puzzle As early as the 1950s, Joseph Needham, a historian of science, drew attention to a paradox that turned out to be his lifetime devotion: why did growth/ development in China fall

Why was china trapped in an agrarian society? An economic geographical approach to the needham puzzle

This paper argues that before the world started to globalize, the differences in the geographical endowments that different population faced were the most important constraints to their long-term

Political Institutions and China's Early Industrial Revolution, 1000 - 1300 A.D.

During the millennium 250 B.C. to 750 A.D., China’s long-run economic performance was characterized by a self-sufficient agrarian economy with per-capita GDP and population remaining more or less

A critical survey of recent research in Chinese economic history

China is a resilient dinosaur. In contrast with so many other great empires in Eurasia – the Egyptian, Roman, Byzantine, Arabian, Ottoman and Tsarist-Soviet – China has the longest history. The

From Divergence to Convergence: Reevaluating the History behind China's Economic Boom

China’s long-term economic dynamics pose a formidable challenge to economic historians. The Qing Empire (1644-1911), the world’s largest national economy before 1800, experienced a tripling of

The Needham’s Puzzle—based on Explanation of the Imperial Examinations system, Human Capital Accumulation and Long-term Economic Growth

This paper attempted a perspective of the imperial examination system in ancient China and human capital accumulation. A kind of new explanatory hypothesis of the Needham's Puzzle was proposed

Demographic Transition , and Industrial Revolution : A Unified Theory

This paper explores the process of development from an epoch of Malthusian stagnation to a state of sustained economic growth. My paper unites the interests of economists, economic historians and

Europe in an Asian mirror : the great divergence

Why did sustained industrialization and modern economic growth first take off in western Europe and not elsewhere? Attempts to address this historical conundrum have spawned a large literature

Why was there no capitalism in Early Modern China

In this paper, we initially bear on the Marxist debate on the transition from feudalism to capitalism to ask the following question: why couldn’t Early Modern China make the leap to capitalism, as we

Growth and Interaction in the World Economy: The Roots of Modernity

In Growth and Interaction in the World Economy, Angus Maddison explores the causes of the West's economic growth over the last two thousand years and contrasts it with the economic history of the



The Grand Titration: Science and Society in East and West.

First published in 1969. The historical civilization of China is, with the Indian and European-Semitic, one of the three greatest in the world, yet only relatively recently has any enquiry been begun

Data on the Structure of the Chinese City in the Pre-Industrial Period

  • W. Eberhard
  • Sociology
    Economic Development and Cultural Change
  • 1956
However, under the influence of the Western text-critical approach, which actually goes back to Thucydides,2 our efforts have concentrated upon political history. This tendency has been strengthened

Before the Industrial Revolution: European Society and Economy, 1000–1700

(1976). Before the Industrial Revolution: European Society and Economy, 1000–1700. History: Reviews of New Books: Vol. 4, No. 9, pp. 198-199.

Man and Land in Chinese History: An Economic Analysis

1. Economic adjustments induced by population pressure 2. Population growth 3. Urban population 4. Measuring the area of cultivated land 5. Man-land ratios and land fragmentation 6. Land distribution

A Stochastic Model of Applied Research

A mathematical model of applied research is formulated. It views applied research as a search in a given distribution; basic research shifts the distribution searched. The productivity of applied

China's Agricultural Legacy

  • A. M. Tang
  • Political Science
    Economic Development and Cultural Change
  • 1979
Formally speaking, at least, China's feudal past is some 2,000 years removed, having ended with the Ch'in unification. Over the centuries, Imperial China consolidated itself as a centralized

Early-Ripening Rice in Chinese History