James Z. Lee

Inequality and Hard Times in the Past: The Eurasian Population and Family History Project 1994-2014 (Co-authored with Hao DONG - Princeton)

Abstract: The Eurasia Population and Family History Project was a collaborative effort by scholars working with community micro-data and individual-level demographic records from eastern Belgium, Northeastern China, Northern Italy, Northeastern Japan, and southern Sweden to re-examine the Malthusian Paradigm.  By carrying out nearly identical analyses on similar data we compared patterns of demographic responses to economic conditions in a variety of specific community contexts identifying both commonality and diversity.  By combining the increased resolution of individual level event history anaylses with formal Malthusian models of demographic behavior under stress we achieved a deeper understanding of human behavior summarized largely in three MIT Press volumes on mortality (Bengtsson, Campbell, and Lee et al 2004), reproduction (Tsuya, Wang, Alter and Lee et al 2010), and marriage (Lundh and Kurosu et al 2014).  Our plenary lecture reviews the lessons of this two decade collaboration and discusses recent work building on this experience.