Drivers of cropland abandonment in mountainous areas: A household decision model on farming scale in Southwest China

Yan, J., Yang, Z., Li, Z., Li, X., Xin, L., & Sun, L. (2016). Drivers of cropland abandonment in mountainous areas: A household decision model on farming scale in Southwest China. Land Use Policy 57 459-469. 10.1016/j.landusepol.2016.06.014.

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Cropland abandonment has emerged as a prevalent phenomenon in the mountainous areas of China. While there is a general understanding that this new trend is driven by the rising opportunity cost of rural labor, rigorous theoretical and empirical analyses are largely absent. This paper first develops a theoretical model to investigate household decisions on farming scale when off-farm labor market is accessible and there is heterogeneity of farmland productivity and distribution. The model is capable of explaining the hidden reasons of cropland abandonment in sloping and agriculturally less-favored locations. The model also unveils the impacts of heterogeneity of household labor on fallow decisions and the efficiency loss due to an imperfect labor market. The model is empirically tested by applying the Probit and Logit estimators to a unique household and land-plot survey dataset which contains 5258 plots of 599 rural households in Chongqing, a provincial level municipality, in Southwest China. The survey shows that more than 30% of the sample plots have been abandoned, mainly since 1992. The econometric results are consistent with our theoretical expectations. This work would help policy-makers and stakeholders to identify areas with a high probability of land abandonment and farming practice which is less sustainable in the mountainous areas.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cropland abandonment; Household decision model; Opportunity cost of farming; China
Research Programs: Water (WAT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2016 07:19
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:27

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