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A High Standard of Living in Nineteenth-Century Japan: Fact or Fantasy?

Susan B. Hanley
The Journal of Economic History
Vol. 43, No. 1, The Tasks of Economic History (Mar., 1983), pp. 183-192
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2120280
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
A High Standard of Living in Nineteenth-Century Japan: Fact or Fantasy?
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Abstract

In an effort to begin to solve the continuing controversy over how high the standard of living was in Japan prior to industrialization, this paper goes beyond the inadequate quantitative data and examines also qualitative and local evidence. Information on housing and food, urban water quality and waste disposal, and life styles is examined along with representative family budgets and two sets of real wage estimates. The evidence, taken together with life expectancy estimates, suggests that the standard of living in mid-nineteenth-century Japan was not only higher than in the 1700s, but relatively high in comparison to most of the industrializing West.

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