Peter A. Coclanis

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Ph.D., Albert R. Newsome Professor, History
Adjunct Professor, Economics; Director, Global Research Institute

coclanis@unc.edu

Campus Office: FedEx Global Education Center, Room 3012
Campus Phone Number: (919) 843-5111

Dr. Coclanis' Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Coclanis's publications in PubMed

Dr. Coclanis's CPC publications

Coclanis is an economic historian who works on American, Southeast Asian, and international economic history from the 17th century to the present day. He publishes in the fields of agricultural history, economic development, and demographic history, including anthropometric history, historical epidemiology, mortality, and migration. In one recent publication, he extends recent work in anthropometric history by assembling and analyzing data in one of the most interesting but least studied parts of Southeast Asia: Burma. Between the mid-19th century and the early 20th century, Lower Burma experienced a rapid rise in population, became increasingly commercialized as a major rice exporter, and saw a significant increase in mean per capita income closely related to the creation of a rice export economy. By contrast, in most parts of Upper Burma, the economy remained subsistence-oriented and less commercialized. Using data reported in detailed anthropometric surveys of Burma compiled in 1904 and 1938-1941, he found an inverted U curve in the evolution of average height in Lower Burma, while stature remained fairly stable in Upper Burma. This is the first evidence from the tropics that, prior to the diffusion of modern public health technologies, gains in economic welfare did not necessarily lead to positive changes in health. A related paper focuses on epistemological and methodological questions relating to studying disease etiology, epidemiology, morbidity, and mortality in historical settings where source materials are at once ambiguous, extremely biased, and incomplete.

In another project, Coclanis is studying slave migration in the antebellum South during the 1840-1860 period using data from the U.S. slave censuses (via IPUMS) to calculate net migration at the county level.

Coclanis will continue to work on a book-length study on the integration of world markets for rice over the course of the period between 1700 and 1920, as well as several studies on the economic, demographic, and environmental history of Burma/Myanmar.

Primary Research Areas:

  • Demography

Information updated on 6/29/2017

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