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Retreat from Equality or Advance towards Efficiency? Land Markets and Inequality in Rural Zhejiang

  • Qian Forrest Zhang

Based on a 2001 survey, this study finds increased disparities in land distribution in rural Zhejiang. Regression analyses yield three main findings. First, increased disparities in land distribution are associated with growth of land markets. Second, rural households who acquired land through markets significantly increased their farm income. Land markets thus gave rise to a new venue of income generation and increased inequality in farm income. Widening disparities in land rights and farm income, however, did not constitute a further retreat from equality, but instead had compensatory effects on overall inequality, as land markets brought up families who would have fallen at the lower end of income distribution in the absence of such markets. Third, land markets increased efficiency in farming, as households who acquired land were using it more productively. In rural Zhejiang, growth of land markets broadened access to market opportunities and enhanced both efficiency and equity.

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The China Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0305-7410
  • EISSN: 1468-2648
  • URL: /core/journals/china-quarterly
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