Journal of Resources and Ecology ›› 2018, Vol. 9 ›› Issue (6): 575-584.doi: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2018.06.001

• Agriculture and Food Security in China •     Next Articles

Increasing China’s Agricultural Labor Productivity: Comparison and Policy Implications from Major Agrarian Countries

CHEN Yangfen1, LI Xiande1,*, LIU Yu2   

  1. 1. Institute of Agricultural Economics and Development, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China;
    2. National Engineering Research Center for Information Technology in Agriculture, Beijing 100097, China
  • Received:2018-06-19 Revised:2018-08-22 Online:2018-11-30 Published:2018-12-04
  • Contact: *LI Xiande, E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China (41471115, 41871109); The Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Program (ASTIP-IAED-2018).

Abstract: China’s low agricultural labor productivity has become the key weakness of its agricultural competitiveness and sustainable development, and strategies for improving China’s agricultural labor productivity lack clear and consistent theory and empirical support. To address this issue, the current study uses the methods of convergence index, correlation coefficient, and nonparametric test, to analyze the characteristics and influencing factors of agricultural labor productivity among 32 major agrarian countries during 1961-2013. This analysis shows that the development gap among countries has been narrowing. The USA takes the leading position among all the countries, while some countries with scarce land like Japan have succeeded in achieving transcendence, and other countries like India have experienced relatively slow speed. The agricultural labor productivity is significantly driven by agricultural labor surplus, agricultural product processing, and agricultural industrial structure. The effects of land resource endowment, agricultural mechanization, and biochemical inputs have been declining and in some cases are no longer even significant. It is therefore necessary to shift attention to marketization, diversification, and high quality, instead of the former focus on agricultural intensification, concentration and large-scale operations, and this shift is probably more closely aligned with current practices. There are more people and less land in China, and the agricultural labor force in China still accounts for nearly 30% of the total population. Considering these national conditions, it is very important to simultaneously improve the efficiency of agricultural production of small farmers and promote the successful urbanization of the agricultural labor force. In the medium and long term, it is imperative to improve the competitiveness of Chinese agriculture by adopting related policy arrangements such as induced agricultural technological innovation, production factor substitution, and multifunctional agriculture development.

Key words: agricultural development, agricultural industry in China, agricultural labor productivity, agricultural policies, international comparison