Famine in China, 1959–61: Demographic and Social by Penny Kane

By Penny Kane

The rural quandary in China of 1959-61 has lengthy been identified to have ended in serious foodstuff shortages however the loss of on hand facts have made it most unlikely to make any review formerly. This publication attracts on lately released chinese language information and from chinese language and overseas assets to piece jointly for the 1st time the occasions of the interval. It examines the advanced explanation for the famine, which diversity from political rules to the behaviour of the peasants. It additionally throws mild at the demographic results, together with the envisioned deaths as a result of the famine, its results on marriage, childbearing and migration. Later it outlines the the various affects which those occasions had on next regulations and plans in addition to on chinese language considering. It exhibits how a ways its demographic results have been specific to modern China and the way a ways they give a contribution to a greater realizing of basic styles of famine behaviour and assesses how 1959-61 famine event matches with that of earlier famines in China and different international locations. the writer has written and edited a few books together with "Choice no longer likelihood" and "Tradition, improvement and the Indiviudal".

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The more populous provinces, where mass famine occurred more quickly and noticeably, are probably over-represented in the records, as are the provinces nearer to the capital, while in some cases local officials may have over-stated the extent of the disaster in order to claim remission of taxes. Nevertheless, it is clear that drought was a frequent occurrence and that it often led to famine (Mallory, 1926, pp. 1-2 and 38-42). Whether agriculture deteriorated and famine became more common during the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early part of this century remains an open question.

164). Given that the majority of famines in China appear to have been comparatively small-scale, and caused by a local natural disaster, and given the country's size and poverty, a policy which could mitigate the effects of this majority of incidents may have been not unreasonable. Its limitations, however, became grossly apparent in times of major catastrophe. Famine in Chinese History 35 THE CONSEQUENCES OF FAMINE Peasants reacted to famine in a range of ways, and many of the accounts echo each other when describing peasant behaviour, so that we can assume that many of the mechanisms are traditional.

Recently, some scholars have argued that in fact the state, at least during the eighteenth century, did possess the institutional and financial means to counteract wide fluctuations in grain prices and alleviate or prevent large-scale subsistence crises, and that this, indeed, explains the period's population growth (Li, 1982, p. 33). Such means included a highly professional bureaucracy, monthly reports on weather and grain prices prepared by provincial governors, river conservancy projects, and a state granary system which stabilised prices through sales and loans, and which could provide famine relief.

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