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Measuring Living Standards in Different Colonial Systems: Some Evidence from South East Asia, 1900–1942

  • ANNE BOOTH (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

This paper investigates the evidence on living standards in colonial economies, with particular reference to South East Asia in the decades from 1900 to 1942. Various measures are investigated, including availability of basic needs, demographic indicators, especially mortality rates, anthropometric measures and wage data. The paper concludes that in spite of the growth in GDP which occurred in most parts of the region between 1900 and 1940, improvements in living standards were modest, and by the late 1930s most colonies had low educational enrolments and high mortality rates. The Philippines had probably the highest living standards in the region, using educational indicators, mortality rates and per capita GDP estimates. But even in the Philippines rice availability per capita was low, and nutritional levels among some segments of the population were also below acceptable standards.

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1 Thompson E. P. (1968), The Making of the English Working Class, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth: p. 347.

2 See in particular the essays in Allen Robert C., Bengtsson Tommy and Dribe Martin (Eds) (2005), Living Standards in the Past: New Perspectives on Well-Being in Asia and Europe, Oxford University Press, Oxford. These essays mainly focus on Europe, but also cover India, Japan and China. A discussion of long-term trends in poverty in six African countries is given in Bowden Sue, Blessing Chiripanhua and Mosley Paul (2008), Measuring and Explaining Poverty in Six African Countries: A Long-Period Approach, Journal of International Development, 20: 10491079.

3 Some recent comparative studies of economic growth in the world economy have stressed that GDP per person grew slowly in Asia compared with Europe and Latin America between 1900 and 1930. See for example Pablo Astorga A. R.Berges A. R. and Fitzgerald Valpy (2005), The standard of living in Latin America during the twentieth century, Economic History Review, LVIII (4): 765769, especially Table A1. But the Asian average gives a high weight to China and India, which grew only very slowly, compared with the faster growing economies in South East Asia. For further estimates of growth in per capita GDP after 1870 in various parts of Asia see Maddison Angus (2003), The World Economy: Historical Statistics, OECD Development Centre Studies, Paris, pp. 180188.

4 Penders C. L. M. (Ed) (1977), Indonesia: Selected Documents on Colonialism and Nationalism 1830–1942, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, p. 61.

5 Expenditures on irrigation, railways and tramways were growing in real terms in The Netherlands Indies in the last decades of the nineteenth century before the ethical policy began, although they increased considerably up until 1921. In 1908 there were already over 100 Delft-trained engineers working for the colonial government, increasing to over 200 by 1930. See de Jong Frida and Ravesteijn Wim (2008), ‘Technology and Administration: The rise and development of public works in the East Indies’, in Ravesteijn Wim and Kop Jan (Eds), For Profit and Prosperity: The Contribution made by Dutch Engineers to Public Works in Indonesia, 1800–2000, KITLV Press, Leiden pp. 5866.

6 Lindert Peter (2004), Growing Public, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Table 1.2.

7 Hutchcroft Paul (2000), ‘Colonial Masters, National Politicos, and Provincial Lords: Central Authority and Local Autonomy in the American Philippines, 1900–1913’, Journal of Asian Studies, 52 (2), p. 277.

8 Peattie Mark R. (1984), ‘Introduction’ in Myers Ramon H. and Peattie Mark (Eds), The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895–1945, Princeton University Press, Princeton, p. 19

9 Successive editions of the Bulletin Economique de l'Indochine, a semi-official French journal which was published from the 1890s through to the early 1950s, contained detailed articles on American, French and British initiatives in agricultural development, including the growth of export commodities such as sugar and rubber. It was not just colonial governments which increasingly felt the need to learn from one another's experience; the independent Kingdom of Thailand invited a Dutch engineer, J. Homan van der Heide, from The Netherlands Indies to advise on irrigation development, although his advice was not followed. A full account is given in Brummelhuis Han ten (2005), King of the Waters: Homan van der Heide and the origin of modern irrigation in Siam, KITLV Press, Leiden.

10 See Henry Yves (1926), ‘Le credit populaire agricole et commercial aux Indes Neerlandaises’, Bulletin Economique de l'Indochine, 29, 69124; and Furnivall J. S. (1934a), Studies in the Social and Economic Development of the Netherlands East Indies 3b: State and Private Money Lending in Netherlands India, Burma Book Club Ltd, Rangoon; and Furnivall J.S. (1934b), Studies in the Social and Economic Development of the Netherlands East Indies 3c: State Pawnshops in Netherlands India, Burma Book Club Ltd., Rangoon, for detailed, and quite positive, studies of The Netherlands Indies peoples’ credit system by a French and a British colonial civil servant.

11 Akami Tomoko (2002), Internationalizing the Pacific: The United States, Japan and the Institute of Pacific Relations in War and Peace, 1919–45, Routledge: London, p. 100.

12 For a detailed list of all the conferences held by the Institute of Pacific Relations between 1925 and 1958, and their major themes, see Akami, Internationalizing, Appendix 1.

13 Lasker Bruno and Holland W. L. (Eds) (1934), Problems of the Pacific, 1933: Economic Conflict and Control, Oxford University Press, London, pp. 8788.

15 A comprehensive study of labour conditions in Indochina was published by the International Labour Office in 1938. See Goudal Jean (1938), Labour Conditions in Indo-china, Studies and Reports Series B (Economic Conditions) No 26, International Labour Office, Geneva. A further study of labour conditions in various parts of Southeast Asia, published after the end of the Pacific war under the auspices of the Institute of Pacific Relations was Thompson Virginia (1947), Labor Problems in Southeast Asia, Yale University Press, New Haven.

16 Polak J. J. (1943), ‘The National Income of the Netherlands Indies, 1921–39’ as reprinted in Creutzberg P. (Ed.), Changing Economy of Indonesia, Vol 5, National Income, The Hague: M. Nijhoff.

17 A good overview of agricultural development in the Japanese empire is given in Myers, Ramon H. and S. Yamada (1984), ‘Agricultural Development in the Empire’ in Myers and Peattie, The Japanese Colonial Empire, pp. 420–452.

18 Rose Beth (1985), Appendix to the Rice Economy of Asia, Washington D.C.: Resources for the Future, Washington D.C.; with additional data: Taiwan and Korea, Grajdanzev Andrew J. (1942), Formosa Today: An Analysis of the Economic Development and Strategic Significance of Japan's Tropical Colony, Institute of Pacific Relations, New York, p. 54; Grajdanzev Andrew J. (1944), Modern Korea, Institute of Pacific Relations, New York, p. 291; Johnston B. F. (1953), Japanese Food Management in World War II, Stanford University Press, Stanford, p. 270. Malaysia: Grist D. H. (1941), Malayan Agricultural Statistics, 1940, Department of Agriculture, Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States, Kuala Lumpur, Table 32; Barnett H. L. (1947), Malayan Agricultural Statistics, Department of Agriculture, Kuala Lumpur, Table 26; Indonesia: Eng Pierre van der (1996), Agricultural Growth in Indonesia, Macmillan Press, Basingstoke, Tables A.3. and A.6; Boomgaard P. and van Zanden J. L. (1990), Food Crops and Arable Lands, Java 1815–1942, Changing Economy in Indonesia, Volume 10, Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, p. 96; Mears Leon A. (1961), Rice Marketing in the Republic of Indonesia, Institute for Economic and Social Research, University of Indonesia, Jakarta, p. 246; Philippines: Mears LeonAgabin M., Anden T. L. and Marquez R. C. (1974), The Rice Economy of the Philippines, University of the Philippines Press, Manila, p. 355; Thailand: Sompop Manarungsan (1989), Economic Development of Thailand, 1850–1950, Ph.D. Dissertation, State University of Groningen, pp. 210–211; Burma: Richter Hazel (1976), ‘Burma's Rice Surplus: Accounting for the Decline’, Working Paper No. 3, Development Studies Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, p. 6; Indochina: Bulletin Economique de l'Indochine, 52 (5), May 1949, p.146.

19 See Grist D. H. (1941), Malayan Agricultural Statistics, 1940, Department of Agriculture, Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States, Kuala Lumpur, Table 32.

20 Mears Leon, Agabin M., Anden T. L. and Marquez R. C. (1974), The Rice Economy of the Philippines, Manila: University of the Philippines Press, Appendix 4.

21 van der Eng Pierre, (2000), Food for Growth: Trends in Indonesia's Food Supply, 1880–1995, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 30 (4), 591616, especially Table 6.

22 Studies which were carried out using the household survey data for the 1970s indicate that gaplek was an inferior food, consumed largely by the lower income groups; see Dixon John A. (1984), ‘Consumption’ in Falcon Walter P. et al. , The Cassava Economy of Java, Stanford University Press, Stanford. This would have been the case also in the earlier decades of the twentieth century.

23 van der Eng Pierre, (1998), Cassava in Indonesia: A Historical Re-appraisal of an Enigmatic Crop, Tonan Ajia Kenkyu (Southeast Asian Studies), 36 (1), 331. See Table 7.

24 van der Eng ‘Food for Growth’, Table 4.

25 van Niel Robert (1956), Living Conditions of Plantation Workers in 1939–40: Final Report of the Coolie Budget Commission, Translation series, Modern Indonesia Project, Cornell University, Ithaca, pp. 108111.

26 de Langen C. D.,(1934), ‘The general state of health of the inhabitants’ in Department of Economic Affairs (1934), Geld en Producten-Huishouding, Volksvoeding en Gezondheid in Koetowinangoen, Archipel Drukkerij, Buitenzorg, p. 405.

27 See J. J. Ochse and G. J. A. Terra (1934), ‘The function of money and products in relation to native diet and physical condition in Koetowinangoen (Java)’ in Department of Economic Affairs, Geld-en Producten-Huishouding, p. 355.

28 See Penny D. H. and Singarimbun M. (1973), Population and Poverty in Rural Java: Some Economic Arithmetic from Sriharjo, Cornell International Agricultural Development Mimeograph 41, Cornell University, Department of Agricultural Economics, Ithaca. This study of incomes in a village in Yogyakarta found that the poorer households, who owned little or no land, depended on activities such as making coconut sugar for a significant part of their incomes. A further study by Stoler also discussed the role of house gardens in rural livelihoods in Yogyakarta in the early 1970s. See Stoler Ann (1978), Garden Use and Household Economy in Rural Java, Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, 14 (2), 85–10.

29 The correlation coefficient between income per capita in 20 households surveyed in the Kutowinangun study (15 agricultural and 5 non-agricultural) and calorie intake per capita was 0.857 (for protein intake per capita).

30 Penders C.L.M. (1984), Bojonegoro 1900–1942. A Story of Endemic Poverty in North-east Java-Indonesia, Gunung Agung Singapore, p. 131.

31 Ibid., p. 142.

32 Henley David (2004), ‘Rizification revisited: Re-examining the rise of rice in Indonesia with special reference to Sulawesi’, in Boomgaard Peter and Henley DavidSmallholders and Stockbreeders: History of foodcrop and livestock farming in Southeast Asia, KITLV Press, Leiden, pp. 107138.

33 Miller Hugo. M. (1920), Economic Conditions in the Philippines, (Revised edition), Ginn and Company, Boston, p. 78.

34 Lava Horacio (1938), ‘Levels of Living in the Ilocos Region’, Study No 1, Philippine Council of the Institute of Pacific Relations, College of Business Administration, University of the Philippines, Manila, pp. 2425.

35 Runes I. T. (1939), General Standards of Living and Wages of Workers in the Philippine Sugar Industry, Philippine Council, Institute of Pacific Relations, Manila, p. 32.

36 Gourou Pierre (1945), Land Utilization in French Indochina, Institute of Pacific Relations, New York, pp. 322–223.

37 Gourou, Land Utilization, pp. 547–553. Dumont found that in Tonkin, the diet was almost completely vegetarian and lacking in both fats and protein. When food was short, tubers such as taro and sweet potatoes were consumed in the place of rice. See Dumont Rene (1957), Types of Rural Economy: Studies in World Agriculture, Methuen and Co, London, pp. 140144.

38 Booth Anne E. (2007), Colonial Legacies: Economic and Social Development in East and Southeast Asia, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Table 3.1.

39 Zimmerman Carle C. (1999), Siam Rural Economic Survey 1930–31, White Lotus (reprint of 1931 edition), Bangkok, pp. 273286.

40 Zimmerman, Siam Rural Economic Survey, p. 276.

41 Manderson Lenore, (1996), Sickness and the State: Health and Illness in Colonial Malaya, 1870–1940, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 9091.

42 The results were reported by Bennison J. J. (1928), Report of an Enquiry into the Standard and Cost of Living of the Working Classes in Rangoon, Superintendent, Government Printing and Stationery, Rangoon.

43 Bennison, Report, pp. 152–162. Bennison (see Appendix 4) reported that the daily rice allowance to male prisoners performing hard labour was 0.68kg per day. Their total calorie allowance was 3,221 per day.

44 This is the weighted average of average daily rice consumption for 95 coolies; see Central Bureau of Statistics (1939), ‘Een Onderzoek naar de levenswijze der Gemeente-koelies te Batavia in 1937’ Mededeeling 177, Batavia: Centraal Kantoor voor de Statistiek, as translated and reprinted in The Indonesian Town, Van Hoeve, The Hague 1958, Tables 14 and 39.

45 Bennison Report, Tables X and XI.

46 By the late 1930s, Rangoon was reputed to have the highest incidence of tuberculosis of any urban area in the world (Thompson, Labor Problems, p. 48). This might have reflected the fact that statistics on infectious diseases were better in Rangoon than in other parts of British India, or indeed in other parts of colonial Asia, but there can be little doubt that the problem was serious.

47 Ochse and Terra, ‘The Function’, Tables 9 and 22.

48 Pomeranz cites the findings of J. L. Buck, that peasant households in six counties of East/Central China spent 53.8 per cent of their income on food. Buck's figures are broadly comparable with those for the better-off households in Southeast Asia; Buck's sample was drawn from better-off peasant households. See Kenneth Pomeranz (2005), ‘Standards of Living in Eighteenth-Century China: Regional Differences, Temporal Trends and Incomplete Evidence’ in Allen, Bengtsson and Dribe (Eds), Living Standards in the Past, p. 32.

49 Burma: Bennison J.J. (1928), Report of an Enquiry into the Standard and Cost of Living of the Working Classes in Rangoon, Government Printing and Stationery, Rangoon, Statistical Tables A and C; Vietnam: Gourou Pierre (1945), Land Utilization in French Indochina, Institute of Pacific Relations, New York, pp. 531540; Philippines: Lava Horacio (1938), Levels of Living in the Ilocos Region, Study No 1, Philippine Council of the Institute of Pacific Relations, College of Business Administration, University of the Philippines, Manila, pp. 1321; Runes I. T. (1939), General Standards of Living and Wages of Workers in the Philippine Sugar Industry, Philippine Council, Institute of Pacific Relations, p. 93; Java (Batavia): Central Bureau of Statistics (1939), Een Onderzoek naar de levenswijze der Gemeente-koelies te Batavia in 1937, Mededeeling 177, Batavia: Centraal Kantoor voor de Statistiek, as translated and reprinted in The Indonesian Town, Van Hoeve, The Hague,1958, Tables 39–41; Java (Plantations): Niel Robert van (1956), Living Conditions of Plantation Workers in 1939–40: Final Report of the Coolie Budget Commission, Translation series, Modern Indonesia Project, Cornell University, Ithaca, p. 77.

50 For a discussion of French trade policies in Indochina in the 1930s see Booth Anne (2003), Four Colonies and a Kingdom: A Comparison of Fiscal, Trade and Exchange Rate Policies in South East Asia in the 1930s, Modern Asian Studies, 37 (2), 429460, especially pp. 447–448.

51 Stewart John R. (1949), Japan's Textile Industry: A report prepared for the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, Institute of Pacific Relations, New York, Appendix II.

52 In their discussion of human development indicators, Ranis, Stewart and Samman suggest that under-five mortality rates are a better indicator of access to health care than either infant mortality rates or life expectancy; unfortunately they were not often calculated in colonial Asia. See Ranis Gustav, Stewart Frances and Samman Emma (2006), Human Development: beyond the Human Development Index, Journal of Human Development, 7 (3): 323358.

53 Zeldin Theodore (1981), France 1848–1945: Anxiety and Hypocrisy, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p. 206.

54 GDP data; Maddison Angus (2003), The World Economy: Historical Statistics, OECD Development Centre Studies, Paris, pp. 182183; Educational enrolments: Furnivall J. S. (1943), Educational Progress in Southeast Asia, Institute of Pacific Relations, New York, p. 111; Infant mortality rates and crude death rates; Indonesia: Nitisastro Widjojo (1970), Population Trends in Indonesia, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, p. 113, Table 39 and refer to Java only; Philippines: Zablan Z. C. (1978), ‘Trends and Differentials in Mortality’ in Population of the Philippines, Country Monograph Series No. 5, United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, pp.100105; Taiwan: Barclay George (1954), Colonial Development and Population in Taiwan, Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp.146, 161; Thailand: Manarungsan, Sompop (1989), Economic Development of Thailand, 1850–1950, Ph.D. Dissertation, State University of Groningen, p. 35; Vietnam: Banens Maks (2000), ‘Vietnam: A Reconstruction of its twentieth Century Population History’ in Bassino Jean-Pascal, Giacometti Jean-Dominique and Odaka K. (Eds), Quantitative Economic History of Vietnam 1900–1990, Hitotsubashi University, Institute of Economic Research, pp. 3637; crude death rates refer to Cochinchina; infant mortality rates refer to Hanoi only. Burma: Sundrum R. M. (1957), ‘Population Statistics of Burma’, Economics Research Project, Statistical Paper No 3, Economics, Statistics and Commerce Departments, University of Rangoon, Rangoon, pp. 20, 52; British Malaya: Evans L. W. (1939), Federated Malay States, Report of the Registrar- General of Births, and Deaths for the Year 1938, FMS Government Press, Kuala Lumpur, Table XV; crude death rates: Palmore James A., Chander Ramesh and Fernandez Dorothy (1975), The Demographic Situation in Malaysia, East-West Population Institute, Reprint Series 70, Honolulu: University of Hawaii, Table 4.1.

55 Vlieland C. A. (1932), British Malaya: A Report on the 1931 Census and on Certain Problems of Vital Statistics, Crown Agents, London, p. 109. In their study of mortality among Indian labourers in Malaya from 1877 to 1933, Shlomowitz and Brennan found that death rates of free workers declined after 1911. They attributed this to the increasing proportion of workers who had acquired some immunity to diseases such as malaria, rather than to any improvement in provision of medical care. See Shlomowitz Ralph, and Brennan Lance (1992), Mortality and Indian Labour in Malaya, 1877–1933, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 29 (1), 5775.

56 Gooszen Hans (1999), A demographic history of the Indonesian archipelago, 1880–1942, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, p. 205.

57 Boomgaard Peter (2003), Smallpox, vaccination, and the Pax Neerlandica Indonesia, 1550–1930, Bijdragen tot de Taal- Land en Volkenkunde 159: 590617. See in particular p. 610.

58 Gardiner Peter and Oey Mayling (1987), ‘Morbidity and Mortality in Java, 1880–1940: The Evidence of the Colonial Reports’ in Owen Norman G. (Ed.), Disease and Death in Southeast Asia: Explorations in Social, Medical and Demographic History, Oxford University Press, Singapore, pp. 7273.

59 The exception is Hanoi where the data are taken from more limited surveys; it is possible that the downward trend after 1929 reflects changes in the sample surveyed.

60 Schwulst E. B. (1932), ‘Report on the Budget and Financial Policies of French Indo-China, Siam, Federated Malay States and the Netherlands East Indies’ in Report of the Governor General of the Philippine Islands 1931, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, p. 57.

61 Hanoi: Banens, Vietnam: A Reconstruction, p. 36; Philippines: Zablan, Trends, p. 105; Straits Settlements: Manderson, Sickness and the State, p. 44; Federated Malay States: Evans, Federated Malay States, p. 25; Burma: Sundrum, Population Statistics, p. 18.

62 Szreter and Mooney have shown that expectations of life at birth in most of the large industrial cities in Britain were well below the national average for the five decades from 1851 to 1900. See Szreter Simon and Mooney Graham (1998), Urbanization, Mortality, and the Standard of Living Debate: New Estimates of the Expectation of Life at Birth in Nineteenth-Century British Cities, Economic History Review, 51 (1): 84112.

63 Vlieland, British Malaya, p. 110. It is possible that the high infant mortality rates in Singapore reflect the fact that Chinese migrants, who accounted for a high percentage of the island's population, brought traditional infant and child care practices with them from China, and these contributed to the high mortality rates. But Smith gives figures on infant mortality rates calculated from registration statistics for 1933–1937 for the ‘Malaysian’ (Malay and Indonesian migrant) populations in various parts of British Malaya. The estimates for Singapore were higher than for most other states. See Smith T. E., Population Growth in Malaya: An Analysis of Recent Trends, Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, p. 54. This would suggest that overcrowded housing and poor sanitation facilities on the island were responsible, at least in part, for the high mortality rates. A detailed discussion of housing conditions in Singapore in 1953–1954 is given in Goh Keng-Swee (1956), Urban Incomes and Housing: A Report on the Social Survey of Singapore, 1953–54, Government Printing Office, Singapore, Chapter 4. He found that less than one-fifth of the population surveyed had exclusive use of their house, and nearly 25 per cent lived in houses with eleven or more occupants. It is unlikely that conditions were much better in the late 1930s.

64 Gooszen, A Demographic History p. 192; and Banens Maks (2000), ‘Vietnam: A Reconstruction of its twentieth Century Population History’ in Bassino Jean-Pascal, Giacometti Jean-Dominique and Odaka K. (Eds), Quantitative Economic History of Vietnam 1900–1990, Tokyo: Hitotsubashi University, Institute of Economic Research, p. 36.

65 Brand W. (1940), Sterfteverhoudingen in de stad Bandoeng, (Differential mortality in the town of Bandung), Koloniale Studien XXIV, pp. 312338, 385–405, as translated in The Indonesian Town, W. van Hoeve Ltd, The Hague, 1958, pp. 256–259.

66 Haas J. H. de (1939), Mortality according to Age Groups in Batavia, Especially among Children, Indian Journal of Pediatrics, VI, No. 26: 231249. See especially pp. 239–240.

67 Nitisastro Widjojo (1970), Population Trends in Indonesia, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, p.113; and Hull Terence H. (1995), Looking Back to the Hygiene Study Ward: A Brief Guide to the Literature, Working Papers in Demography, 54, Canberra: Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, p. 5.

68 Mesters Hans (1996), ‘J. L. Hydrick in the Netherlands Indies: An American view on Dutch public health policy’ in Boomgaard Peter, Sciortino Rosalio and Smyth Ines (Eds), Health Care in Java: Past and Present, KITLV Press, Leiden, p. 61.

69 Straits Settlements: Manderson (1996), Sickness and the State, pp. 55–56; Federated Malay States: Evans (1939), Federated Malay States, p. 25; Batavia: Haas J. H. de (1939), Mortality according to Age Groups in Batavia, Especially among Children, Indian Journal of Pediatrics,VI, No. 26, p. 239; Bandung: Brand, W. (1940), Sterfteverhoudingen in de stad Bandoeng, (Differential mortality in the town of Bandung), Koloniale Studien XXIV, as translated in The Indonesian Town, W. van Hoeve Ltd, The Hague, 1958, pp. 238, 248, 256; Saigon: Statistique General de l'Indochine (1937), Naissances et deces dans la region de Saigon-Cholon en 1936, Bulletin Economique de l'Indochine, 40, p. 832.

70 Manderson, Sickness and the State, pp.130–137.

71 Ibid., p. 216.

72 Brand, Sterfteverhoudingen, p. 265.

73 Ibid., p. 256.

74 Eng Pierre van der (1995), ‘An Inventory of Secular Changes in Human Growth in Indonesia’, in Komlos J. (Ed.), The Biological Standard of Living in Three Continents: Further Explorations in Anthropometric History, Westview Press, Boulder, pp. 175188.

75 Concepcion Isabelo (1933), The Physical Growth of Filipinos, Institute of Pacific Relations, Manila. p. 14.

76 Ibid., Physical Growth, pp. 14–15.

77 Maddison Angus (2005), Measuring and Interpreting World Economic Performance 1500–2001, Review of Income and Wealth, Series 51 (1), 135, p. 24.

78 Williamson Jeffrey G. (1998), Real Wages and Relative Factor Prices in the Third World, 1820–1940; Asia, Discussion Paper No. 1844, Harvard Institute of Economic Research, Harvard University 1998; Williamson Jeffrey G. (2000), ‘Globalization, factor prices and living standards in Asia before 1940’ in Latham A. J. H. and Kawakatsu Heita (Eds), Asia Pacific Dynamism, 1550–2000, Routledge, London, pp. 1345.

79 Booth, Colonial Legacies, pp. 141–145.

80 Indonesia: Central Bureau of Statistics (1975), 1971 Population Census, Population of Indonesia, Series D, Central Bureau of Statistics, Jakarta, p. 246; Philippines: Bureau of Census and Statistics (1971), Yearbook of Philippine Statistics, 1969, Bureau of Census and Statistics, Manila, p. 144; Thailand: National Statistical Office (1971), Report of the Labour Force Survey, Office of the Prime Minister, National Statistical Office, Bangkok, Tables 7A and 7B.

81 Williamson, ‘Globalization’ Table 1.2.

82 See Kurihara Kenneth, (1945), Labor in the Philippine Economy, Stanford University Press, Stanford, pp. 4243. Minimum wage regulations were introduced in Indochina in 1936; there were no minimum wages in The Netherlands Indies although the Coolie Ordinance of 1931 did stipulate some regulations regarding the level of wages relative to living costs. The Thai government, although independent and a member of the International Labour Office, did not ratify any of the International Labour Office conventions in the inter-war era, probably because the great majority of wage workers were of Chinese origin. See Thompson, Labor Problems, p. 230. In Britain, a Colonial Office Labour Committee was established in 1930 ‘largely to deal with the applications of International Labour Office. Conventions in dependent territories’. See Parmer N. J. (1960), Colonial Labor Policy and Administration: A History of Labor in the Rubber Plantation Industry in Malaya, c. 1910–1941, J. J. Augustin, Locust Valley, p. 264. During the 1930s, as labour unrest mounted in various parts of Asia and Africa, the Colonial Office was forced to give more attention to employment conditions and to the enforcement of labour standards.

83 Booth, Colonial Legacies, Table 3.11.

84 Owen series: Owen Norman G. (1984), Prosperity Without Progress: Manila Hemp and Material Life in the Colonial Philippines, University of California Press, Berkeley, p. 4752; Williamson series and cost of living index: Williamson Jeffrey G. (1998), Real Wages and Relative Factor Prices in the Third World, 1820–1940: Asia, Discussion Paper No. 1844, Harvard Institute of Economic Research, Harvard University 1998, pp. 273274.

85 A recent critique of national income accounting can be found in Stiglitz Joseph, Sen Amartya and Fitoussi Jean-Paul, Mismeasuring our Lives: Why GDP Doesn't Add Up, The New Press, New York, especially Chapter 2.

86 See in particular Ranis, Stewart and Samman, Human Development, for an analysis of possible extensions. They identify eleven categories of human development in addition to the Human Development Index itself, although they concede that for many developing countries data on some of these categories are not available.

87 Crafts N. F. R. (1997), ‘The human development index and changes in standards of living: some historical comparisons’, European Review of Economic History, 1, 299322; and Crafts Nicholas (2002), ‘The human development index, 1870–1999: Some revised estimates’, European Review of Economic History, 6, 395405.

88 Metzer Jacob (1998), The Divided Economy of Mandatory Palestine, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 57; Astorga, Berges and Fitzgerald, The Standard of Living, Table A6, have estimated a historical living standard index for a number of Latin American countries over the twentieth century. Unlike the Human Development Index, it does not include educational enrolments. Their estimates of literacy in 1940 range from 44 per cent in Brazil to 73 per cent in Chile and Costa Rica; the estimate of 49 per cent derived from the Philippine Census in 1939 was thus lower than most of the countries for which they obtained data. On the other hand, the estimated life expectancy of 46 years in the Philippines was higher than in all the countries they examined except Costa Rica.

89 See, in particular, Bevoise Ken de (1995), Agents of Apocalypse: Epidemic Disease in Colonial Philippines, Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. ix, 12–13. This author cites an oral history project carried out in the Philippines in the 1950s. Those who could remember the war at the turn of the century stressed the impact of disease, rather than deaths from fighting. Zablan attributed the very low estimate of life expectancy at birth for 1902 (made by the Bureau of Census and Statistics) to severe smallpox and cholera epidemics. See Zablan Z. C. (1978), ‘Trends and Differentials in Mortality’ in Population of the Philippines, Country Monograph Series No. 5, United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, pp. 99116. Corpuz compared populations from the Spanish census of 1887 with the American census of 1903. He found that 11 out of 30 provinces had population declines over these years. The area cultivated to rice and other food crops was also greatly reduced. See Corpuz O. D. (1989), The Roots of the Filipino Nation, Volume 2, Aklahi Foundation, Quezon City, pp. 521526. There is evidence that the problems afflicting the Philippines in the last decades of the nineteenth century were also found in other parts of South East Asia. A recent study of long-term trends in average heights of adults in Indonesia found evidence of declines in the three decades after 1870. These declines were attributed to a sequence of droughts, cholera epidemics, cattle plague and the devastation caused by the Krakatau eruption. See Baten Joerg, Stegl Mojgen and Eng Pierre van der (2010), Long-Term Economic Growth and the Standard of Living in Indonesia, Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics No. 514, Australian National University, February, p. 15.

90 GDP data from Hooley Richard (2005), American economic policy in the Philippines, 1902–1940: Exploring a dark age in colonial statistics, Journal of Asian Economics, 16, pp. 464488. Data from Table A1. Population data from Bureau of Census and Statistics (1941), Yearbook of Philippine Statistics, 1940, Bureau of Census and Statistics, Manila, p. 13; and National Economic and Development Authority (1978), The National Income Accounts, CY 1946–1975 (Link Series), National Economic and Development Authority, Manila, pp. 167169. Life expectancy from Zablan, Trends, p. 105. Infant mortality from Wood Leonard (1926), Report of the Governor General of the Philippine Islands 1924, Government Printing Office, Washington, p. 8; and Zablan, Trends, p. 105. Educational enrollments from Bureau of Census and Statistics (1960), Handbook of Philippine Statistics, 1903–1959, Bureau of Census and Statistics, Manila, pp. 2328 and National Economic and Development Authority (1976), NEDA Statistical Yearbook of the Philippines 1976, Manila: National Economic and Development Authority, Manila, Table 15.3. Rice availability data from Mears et al., The Rice Economy, pp. 355–356.

91 The available GDP estimates for South East Asia prior to 1960 are usually estimated from the production side, so even aggregate data on household consumption expenditures are not available. One of the recommendations of Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi, Mismeasuring, p. 56, is that consumption data rather than aggregate GDP should be used to track changes in material living standards. This is not possible for Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma or British Malaya, prior to the 1950s.

92 Williamson, Globalization, Table 1.7, estimates trends in real wages relative to trends in total GDP for nine Asian countries from 1870 to 1939. He argues that a fall in this ratio implies worsening distribution on the grounds that the relatively poor would be receiving more of their income as wages compared with the better-off. This seems questionable; it is arguable that those who got most or all of their incomes from wages could well have been among the better-off groups in many parts of Asia prior to 1940, and indeed more recently. In order to test trends in income inequality, we need comprehensive household income and expenditure surveys, and these were not carried out in Malaya or the Philippines until the 1950s. The evidence suggested high levels of inequality in both countries by 1960. See in particular Mangahas M. (1975), ‘Income Inequality in the Philippines: A Decomposition Analysis’ in Income distribution, Employment and Economic Development in Southeast and East Asia, The Japan Economic Research Center, Tokyo, p. 304.

93 In Indonesia it has been estimated that the average level of education increased from 0.1 years in 1900 to 0.5 years by 1930 See van der Eng Pierre (2001), ‘Indonesia's Economy and Standard of Living in the twentieth Century’ in Lloyd Grayson and Smith Shannon (Eds), Indonesia Today: Challenges of History, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, p. 191. While a five-fold increase might look impressive, the growth was from such a low level that by 1930 the great majority of the indigenous population had received no formal education.

94 Maddison himself stressed that his estimates were simply work in progress and subject to further revision. Since the publication of his 2003 compilation of GDP data, revisions to the estimates for Taiwan, Japan and Korea have been made by Fukao K., Ma Debin and Yuan Tangjun (2005), International Comparison in Historical Perspective: Reconstructing the 1934–36 Benchmark Purchasing Power Parity for Japan, Korea and Taiwan, Discussion Paper Series 66, Hitotsubashi University Research Unit for Statistical and Empirical Analysis in the Social Sciences, Tokyo. The estimates for the Philippines by Richard Hooley, which were used by Maddison, have recently been subject to revision by Eto. See Hooley Richard (2005), American economic policy in the Philippines, 1902–1940: Exploring a dark age in colonial statistics, Journal of Asian Economics, 16, 464488, and Eto Keiya (2010), An Examination of the Statistical Data Sources of the Philippines: Notes on Estimating the Historical GDP of the Primary Industry (2), Discussion Paper Series 135, Hitotsubashi University Research Unit for Statistical and Empirical Analysis in the Social Sciences, Tokyo.

95 Booth, Colonial Legacies, Table 4.4.

96 Ibid., pp. 68–75.

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Modern Asian Studies
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  • EISSN: 1469-8099
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