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Chemical Fertilizer and Migration in China

Author

Listed:
  • Avraham Ebenstein
  • Jian Zhang
  • Margaret S. McMillan
  • Kevin Chen

Abstract

This paper examines a possible connection between China's massive rural to urban migration and high chemical fertilizer use rates during the late 1980s and 1990s. Using panel data on villages in rural China (1987-2002), we find that labor out-migration and fertilizer use per hectare are positively correlated. Using 2SLS, employing the opening of a Special Economic Zone in a nearby city as an instrument, we find that village fertilizer use is linked to contemporaneous short-term out-migration of farm workers. We also examine the long-term environmental consequences of chemical fertilizer use during this period. Using OLS, we find that fertilizer use intensity is correlated with future fertilizer use rates and diminished effectiveness of fertilizer, demonstrating persistency in use patterns, and suggesting that in areas with high use of fertilizer, the land is becoming less responsive. We also demonstrate that fertilizer use within a river basin is correlated with organic forms of water pollution, suggesting that industrialization has induced pollution in China both directly and through its impact on rural labor supply.

Suggested Citation

  • Avraham Ebenstein & Jian Zhang & Margaret S. McMillan & Kevin Chen, 2011. "Chemical Fertilizer and Migration in China," NBER Working Papers 17245, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17245 Note: EEE ITI
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fan, Shenggan & Pardey, Philip G., 1997. "Research, productivity, and output growth in Chinese agriculture," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 115-137, June.
    2. Avraham Ebenstein, 2012. "The Consequences of Industrialization: Evidence from Water Pollution and Digestive Cancers in China," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 186-201, February.
    3. John Giles & Kyeongwon Yoo, 2007. "Precautionary Behavior, Migrant Networks, and Household Consumption Decisions: An Empirical Analysis Using Household Panel Data from Rural China," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(3), pages 534-551, August.
    4. Huang, Jikun & Rozelle, Scott, 1996. "Technological change: Rediscovering the engine of productivity growth in China's rural economy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 337-369, May.
    5. Jikun Huang & Scott Rozelle, 1995. "Environmental Stress and Grain Yields in China," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 77(4), pages 853-864.
    6. YU Xiaohua & ZHAO Guoqing, 2009. "Chinese agricultural development in 30 years: A literature review," Frontiers of Economics in China, Higher Education Press, vol. 4(4), pages 633-648, December.
    7. Xiaohua Yu & Guoqing Zhao, 2009. "Chinese agricultural development in 30 years: A literature review," Frontiers of Economics in China, Springer;Higher Education Press, vol. 4(4), pages 633-648, December.
    8. Lin, Justin Yifu, 1992. "Rural Reforms and Agricultural Growth in China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 34-51, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Elizabeth Brainerd, 2012. "Seasonal Effects of Water Quality on Infant and Child Health in India," Working Papers id:5119, eSocialSciences.
    2. repec:eee:jeeman:v:86:y:2017:i:c:p:93-120 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Brainerd, Elizabeth & Menon, Nidhiya, 2014. "Seasonal effects of water quality: The hidden costs of the Green Revolution to infant and child health in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 49-64.
    4. Siqi Zheng & Matthew E. Kahn, 2013. "Understanding China's Urban Pollution Dynamics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 731-772, September.
    5. Yunju, Li & Kahrl, Fredrich & Jianjun, Pan & Roland-Holst, David & Yufang, Su & Wilkes, Andreas & Jianchu, Xu, 2012. "Fertilizer use patterns in Yunnan Province, China: Implications for agricultural and environmental policy," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 78-89.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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