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Structural change, land use and the state in China: making sense of three divergent processes

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  • Arsel, M.
  • Dasgupta, A.
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    Abstract

    Rapid economic growth involves significant changes in land use patterns. The paper uses the recent history of Chinese economic growth to highlight and interrogate the implication of such changes within the context of structural transformation. It argues that though land use change is an important underlying dimension of the massive structural transformation accompanying China’s explosive economic growth, the dominant theoretical literature on structural change is not cognizant of this fact. It does so by looking at arable land conversion in coastal provinces (from agriculture to industry or urban development), the ‘Grain for Green’ land set-aside program to prevent soil erosion in central and western areas, and ‘wasteland’ reclamation particularly in the northwest. In so doing, it also argues for an integrated analysis that recognizes that land has a type of scarcity that arises from its location and not just its total availability at the national level, i.e. land here is not the same as land there. The paper shows that contrary to the implicit understanding of structural change literature and indeed development theory, the transition of land in China between its uses defies the dominant linear and unidirectional narrative. The three processes discussed here show that land–and population dependent on its livelihoods on these lands–move in different directions and purposes and these movements are shaped and determined by state vision of progress and development.

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    File URL: http://repub.eur.nl/pub/21528/wp509.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague in its series ISS Working Papers - General Series with number 509.

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    Date of creation: 15 Nov 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:ems:euriss:21528

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    Keywords: China; economic growth; land; state; structural change;

    References

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    1. Xu, Zhigang & Xu, Jintao & Deng, Xiangzheng & Huang, Jikun & Uchida, Emi & Rozelle, Scott, 2006. "Grain for Green versus Grain: Conflict between Food Security and Conservation Set-Aside in China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 130-148, January.
    2. Emi Uchida & Jintao Xu & Scott Rozelle, 2005. "Grain for Green: Cost-Effectiveness and Sustainability of China’s Conservation Set-Aside Program," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 81(2).
    3. Laitner, John, 2000. "Structural Change and Economic Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 545-61, July.
    4. Ellman, Michael, 1975. "Did the Agricultural Surplus Provide the Resources for the Increase in Investment in the U SSR During the First Five Year Plan?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 85(340), pages 844-63, December.
    5. Deng, Xiangzheng & Huang, Jikun & Rozelle, Scott & Uchida, Emi, 2008. "Growth, population and industrialization, and urban land expansion of China," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 96-115, January.
    6. Jintao Xu & Ran Tao & Zhigang Xu & Michael T. Bennett, 2010. "China’s Sloping Land Conversion Program: Does Expansion Equal Success?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(2), pages 219-244.
    7. Bennett, Michael T., 2008. "China's sloping land conversion program: Institutional innovation or business as usual?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 699-711, May.
    8. Uchida, Emi & Xu, Jintao & Xu, Zhigang & Rozelle, Scott, 2007. "Are the poor benefiting from China's land conservation program?," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(04), pages 593-620, August.
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