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Mechanization outsourcing clusters and division of labor in Chinese agriculture

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  • Zhang, Xiaobo
  • Yang, Jin
  • Thomas, Reardon

Abstract

Despite small landholdings, a high degree of land fragmentation, and rising labor costs, agricultural production in China has steadily increased. If one treats the farm household as the unit of analysis, it would be difficult to explain the conundrum. When seeing agricultural production from the lens of the division of labor, the puzzle can be easily solved. In response to rising labor costs, farmers outsource some power-intensive stages of production, such as harvesting, to specialized mechanization service providers, which are often clustered in a few counties and travel throughout the country to provide harvesting services at competitive prices. Through such an arrangement, smallholder farmers can stay viable in agricultural production.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhang, Xiaobo & Yang, Jin & Thomas, Reardon, 2017. "Mechanization outsourcing clusters and division of labor in Chinese agriculture," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 184-195.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:43:y:2017:i:c:p:184-195
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2017.01.012
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    11. Fan Fan & Bei Li & Weifeng Zhang & John R. Porter & Fusuo Zhang, 2021. "Evaluation of Sustainability of Irrigated Crops in Arid Regions, China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(1), pages 1-15, January.
    12. Xin Deng & Zhongcheng Yan & Dingde Xu & Yanbin Qi, 2020. "Land Registration, Adjustment Experience, and Agricultural Machinery Adoption: Empirical Analysis from Rural China," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(3), pages 1-14, March.
    13. Gulati, Kajal & Lybbert, Travis J. & Spielman, David J., 2017. "Diffusing to level fields: Evolution of laser land leveling technology markets in India," 2017 Annual Meeting, July 30-August 1, Chicago, Illinois 258387, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    14. Takeshima, Hiroyuki & Adhikari, Rajendra Prasad & Kumar, Anjani, 2016. "Is access to tractor service a binding constraint for Nepali Terai farmers? :," IFPRI discussion papers 1508, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    15. Liu, Yanyan & Barrett, Christopher B. & Pham, Trinh & Violette, William, 2020. "The intertemporal evolution of agriculture and labor over a rapid structural transformation: Lessons from Vietnam," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 94(C).
    16. Guo, Hongdong & Ji, Chen & Jin, Songqing & Huang, Zuhui, 2015. "Outsourcing Agricultural Production: Evidence from Rice Farmers in Zhejiang Province," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 206079, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    17. Takeshima, Hiroyuki, 2015. "Identifying the effects of market imperfections for a scale biased agricultural technology: Tractors in Nigeria," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211937, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    18. Rada, Nicholas & Wang, Chenggang & Qin, Lijian, 2015. "Subsidy or market reform? Rethinking China’s farm consolidation strategy," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 93-103.
    19. Zhang, Jian & Mishra, Ashok K. & Zhu, Peixin & Li, Xiaoshun, 2020. "Land rental market and agricultural labor productivity in rural China: A mediation analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 135(C).
    20. Hong, Yu & Heerink, Nico & van der Werf, Wopke, 2020. "Farm size and smallholders’ use of intercropping in Northwest China," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 99(C).
    21. Qiangqiang Zhang & Beibei Yan & Xuexi Huo, 2018. "What Are the Effects of Participation in Production Outsourcing? Evidence from Chinese Apple Farmers," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(12), pages 1-15, November.
    22. Idelphonse O. Saliou & Afio Zannou & Augustin K. N. Aoudji & Albert N. Honlonkou, 2020. "Drivers of Mechanization in Cotton Production in Benin, West Africa," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(11), pages 1-13, November.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agriculture; Lewis turning point; Outsource; Mechanization;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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