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

John T. Giles, World Bank Group
Ren Mu, Texas A&M University

This paper investigates the impact of land tenure insecurity on farmers’ labor migration decisions in rural China. Crucial for our identification is that the heterogeneity of patrilineal clans within a village is associated with the cost of reallocating land. We show that the probability of a village-wide reallocation is a function of exogenously determined election timing interacted with the share of households in a village belonging to the largest patrilineal clan in the first year of a panel survey. This interaction is used to identify the effect of land tenure insecurity on migration decisions. We find that in response to a higher probability of village-wide land reallocation, farmers reduce their migration probability by 2.1%, which accounts for 14% of the annual migration rate during this period. This finding attests to the importance of secure property rights in facilitating labor market integration and urbanization in general.

  See paper

Presented in Session 90: Internal Migration, Emigration, and Social and Economic Change