Journal of Resources and Ecology ›› 2017, Vol. 8 ›› Issue (6): 595-604.doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2017.06.005

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Impacts of Non-farm Employment of Rural Laborers on Agricultural Land Use: Theoretical Analysis and Its Policy Implications

HAO Haiguang1, LI Xiubin2, 3, XIN Liangjie2   

  1. 1. Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing 100012, China;
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China;
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2017-08-24 Revised:2017-10-20 Online:2017-11-30 Published:2017-12-06
  • Contact: LI Xiubin, E-mail: lixb@igsnrr.ac.cn
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China (41501095)

Abstract: During rapid urbanization and industrialization process, non-farm employment of rural laborers has emerged as a prevalent phenomenon in rural areas of China and become an important driving factor for changes in agricultural land use. This article attempts to theoretically analyze the impacts of non-farm employment of rural laborers on agricultural land use based on economic frameworks. As rational agents, farmers aim to maximize their income and follow equilibrium principles when they decide how to allocate their labor forces (or working time) in two departments (farm and non-farm) and how to use their agricultural land with different quality and location. The income earned by non-farm employment is higher, and there exists a comparative advantage between labors, as a result the quantity and quality of labor input in agricultural land use decreases. With the limitation of labor input during agricultural land use decision-making of farm households, on the one hand, land with higher quality is still utilized by farmers. On the other hand, poor quality land will be less well managed and is more likely to be abandoned. Non-farm employment of rural laborers and the rising of opportunity costs will result in abandonment of poor quality land, and great importance should be attached to this by policy makers.

Key words: agricultural land use, ecosystem conservation, equilibrium principle, non-farm employment, theoretical analysis