The historical records of Ch’ing China (1644-1911) contain numerous statistics concerning the population in local areas and the distribution of markets. These figures provide information on two of the most important and least understood factors that were to affect China’s modern development: the massive population growth prior to 1850 and the tenacity of small-scale markets as the focus of commercialisation. This book presents and evaluates the data from northern China to ascertain the quality of available records and to determine what they can tell is about variations from area to area and from period to period. The analysis of population centres on sex rations, age distributions, mean household size and growth rates. Without overlooking limitations in the data, this study emphasises the implications of the findings for general problems in the social history of the Ch’ing period.