Abstract: As recently as twenty-five years ago, there were virtually no demographers of China and there was little available data on Chinese demographic behavior. Thus in spite of intense interest in China’s population dating back at least to Malthus (1766–1834), his initial understanding, or rather misunderstanding, of Chinese population dynamics remains dominant. While recent research on European population history has confirmed Malthus’s observations that European, or at least English, population size was controlled largely by the preventive check, nuptiality, the absence of similar studies of Chinese population history ironically facilitated the persistence of a Malthusian hypothesis that Chinese population size was controlled largely by the positive check, mortality. It is a tribute to the elegance and power of the Malthusian orthodoxy that in spite of the lack of information on Chinese historic demographic behavior and economic performance, many of the most distinguished Western scholars o