Back to the ‘Normal’ Level of Human-Capital Driven Growth? A Note on Early Numeracy in Korea, China and Japan, 1550 - 1800

DSpace Repository


Dokumentart: WorkingPaper
Date: 2013
Source: University of Tübingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance ; 52
Language: English
Faculty: 6 Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Wirtschaftswissenschaften
DDC Classifikation: 330 - Economics
Keywords: Humankapital , Wirtschaftswachstum , Rechnen , Korea , China , Japan
Other Keywords:
Human-Capital , Development , Growth , Numeracy
Show full item record


This paper draws on a unique data set, hojok (household registers), to estimate numeracy levels in Korea, 1550–1630, and evidence on Japan and China from the early modern period until 1800. We found that a substantial share of East Asians rounded their ages to multiples of five. However, the extent of age-heaping was quite low by global standards, even considering the potential sources of upward bias inherent in the data. Therefore, the unusually high level of numeracy in East Asia in the early 21st century was already present in the early modern period. The findings imply that in the Korean case, for example, the foundations of the human-capital based catch-up growth were laid very early. More broadly, we argue that Korea, Japan, and China returned to the growth-path at different points of the 20th century, and this return was pre-determined by their early numeracy development.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)