Forestland Reform in China: What Do the Farmers Want? A Choice Experiment in Farmers’ Property Rights Preferences
Various decentralization experiments are currently underway in the Chinese forestry sector. However, a key question often ignored by researchers and policymakers addresses what farmers really want from reform. This paper uses a survey-based choice experiment to investigate farmers’ preferences for various property-rights attributes of a forestland contract. We found that farmers are highly concerned with what types of rights a contract provides. Reducing perceived risks of contract termination and introducing a priority right in the renewal of an old contract significantly increase farmers’ marginal willingness to pay for a forest contract. An extended waiting time for rights to harvest the forest reduces a farmer’s perceived value of a contract. Farmers are also concerned with the tenure length. In one region, the annual willingness to pay for a 50-year contract is even higher than the annual willingness to pay for 25-year contract.
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