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Village Political Economy, Land Tenure Insecurity, and the Rural to Urban Migration Decision: Evidence from China

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  • John Giles
  • Ren Mu

Abstract

This article investigates the impact of land tenure insecurity on the migration decisions of China’s rural residents from 1995 to 2003. The article appeals to a simple model to frame the relationship between migration and the probability that a reallocation of land in the village will occur in the following year. Empirically, the article first demonstrates that a village leader’s support for an administrative land reallocation carries with it the risk of losing a future election. Exploiting election timing and village heterogeneity in lineage group composition, the article identifies the effect of reallocation risk on migration decisions. In response to an expected land reallocation in the following year, the probability that a rural resident migrates out of the county declines by 2.4 percentage points, which accounts for 15% of the annual share of village residents, aged 16 to 50, who worked as migrants during the period. This finding underscores the potential importance of secure property rights for facilitating labor market integration and the movement of labor out of agriculture.

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  • John Giles & Ren Mu, 2018. "Village Political Economy, Land Tenure Insecurity, and the Rural to Urban Migration Decision: Evidence from China," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 100(2), pages 521-544.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ajagec:v:100:y:2018:i:2:p:521-544.
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    Cited by:

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    3. Luigi Minale, 2018. "Agricultural productivity shocks, labour reallocation and rural–urban migration in China," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 795-821.
    4. Xin, Liangjie & Li, Xiubin, 2019. "Rental rates of grain land for consolidated plots and their determinants in present-day China," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 421-426.
    5. Agyei-Holmes,Andrew & Buehren,Niklas & Goldstein,Markus P. & Osei,Robert Darko & Osei-Akoto,Isaac & Udry,Christopher Robert, 2020. "The Effects of Land Title Registration on Tenure Security, Investment and the Allocation of Productive Resources : Evidence from Ghana," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9376, The World Bank.
    6. Yang Yang & Hua Li & Zhen Liu & Long Cheng & Assem Abu Hatab & Jing Lan, 2020. "Effect of Forestland Property Rights and Village Off-Farm Environment on Off-Farm Employment in Southern China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(7), pages 1-17, March.
    7. Li, Shi & Vendryes, Thomas, 2018. "Real estate activity, democracy and land rights in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 54-79.
    8. Ma, Shuang & Mu, Ren, 2017. "Forced off Farm? Labor Allocation Response to Land Requisition in Rural China," IZA Discussion Papers 10640, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Gersovitz, Mark, 2016. "Sectoral asymmetries and a social-welfare interpretation of Hukou," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 108-115.
    10. Xu, Licheng & Du, Xiaodong, 2020. "Land certification, rental market participation, and income dynamics in rural China," 2020 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, Kansas City, Missouri 304247, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    11. Zhao, Xiaoxue, 2020. "Land and labor allocation under communal tenure: Theory and evidence from China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 147(C).
    12. Salvatore Di Falco & Jérémy Laurent‐Lucchetti & Marcella Veronesi & Gunnar Kohlin, 2020. "Property Rights, Land Disputes and Water Scarcity: Empirical Evidence from Ethiopia," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 102(1), pages 54-71, January.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Migration; land tenure; property rights; rural China; village elections; village political economy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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