Coping with Poverty and Famine: Material Welfare, Public Goods, and Chinese Approaches to Governance
Chapter from the book: Tanimoto M. & Wong R. 2019. Public Goods Provision in the Early Modern Economy: Comparative Perspectives from Japan, China, and Europe.
This chapter, by R. Bin Wong, discusses eighteenth-century Chinese approaches to poverty, including efforts to store grain for subsistence relief (such as granaries), one of the last lines of defense against famine that could impoverish much of the population. To address the root causes of poverty, Chinese officials and bureaucracy made efforts to expand agricultural production and ensure the wide circulation of commercial grain flows. These efforts were motivated by a long tradition of governance that made the common people’s material welfare consequential to public order and political legitimacy.