James Z. Lee

James Z. Lee is Professor and Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

  • Prudence and Pressure

    Prudence and Pressure

    Reproduction and Human Agency in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900

    Noriko O. Tsuya, Feng Wang, George Alter, and James Z. Lee

    A study of human reproduction and social organization in preindustrial communities that reveals important similarities between Europe and Asia.

    This pioneering study reconceptualizes the impact of social organizations, economic conditions, and human agency on human reproduction in preindustrial communities in Europe and Asia. Unlike previous studies, in which Asia is measured by European standards, Prudence and Pressure develops a Eurasian perspective.

    Drawing on rich new data and the tools of event-history analysis, the authors challenge the accepted Eurocentric Malthusian view that attributes “prudence” (smaller families due to late marriage) to the preindustrial West and “pressure” (high mortality due to overpopulation) to the East, showing instead important similarities between Europe and Asia in human motivation and population behavior.

    The authors analyze age, gender, family and household, kinship, social class and power, religion, culture, and economic resources in order to compare reproductive strategies and outcomes. They reveal underlying similarities between East and West in two major components of the reproductive regime—marriage and childbearing—and offer evidence showing that preindustrial reproduction was motivated and governed by human agency at least as much as by human biology.

    Prudence and Pressure is part of a large-scale interdisciplinary effort to use new data and methods to re-examine the Malthusian paradigm of population growth. It represents a significant advance in the fields of historical demography, history, and sociology.

  • Life under Pressure

    Life under Pressure

    Mortality and Living Standards in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900

    Tommy Bengtsson, Cameron Campbell, and James Z. Lee

    A pioneering work in comparative history and social science that compares population behavior in response to adversity in Europe and Asia.

    This highly original book—the first in a series analyzing historical population behavior in Europe and Asia—pioneers a new approach to the comparative analysis of societies in the past. Using techniques of event history analysis, the authors examine 100,000 life histories in 100 rural communities in Western Europe and Asia to analyze the demographic response to social and economic pressures. In doing so they challenge the accepted Eurocentric Malthusian view of population processes and demonstrate that population behavior has not been as uniform as previously thought—that it has often been determined by human agency, particularly social structure and cultural practice.

    The authors examine the complex relationship between human behavior and social and economic environment, analyzing age, gender, family, kinship, social class and social organization, climate, food prices, and real wages to compare mortality responses to adversity. Their research at the individual, household, and community levels challenges the previously accepted characterizations of social and economic behavior in Europe and Asia in the past. The originality of the analysis as well as the geographic breadth and historical depth of the data make Life Under Pressure a significant advance in the field of historical demography. Its findings will be of interest to scholars in economics, environmental studies, demography, history, and sociology as well as the general reader interested in these subjects.

    • Hardcover $10.75
    • Paperback $5.75