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Changing Property-Rights Regimes: A Study of Rural Land Tenure in China

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 June 2017

Loren Brandt
University of Toronto. Email:
Susan H. Whiting*
University of Washington.
Linxiu Zhang
Chinese Academy of Sciences. Email:
Tonglong Zhang
South China Agricultural University. Email:
Email: (corresponding author).


Through two rounds of land contracting, rural households have been allocated a bundle of rights in land. We observe significant differences across villages in the amount of land to which villagers retain a claim and the institutional mechanisms governing the exchange of land rights. This study reveals the perpetuation and expansion of non-market mechanisms accruing to the benefit of village cadres and state officials and only limited emergence of market mechanisms in which households are primary beneficiaries. It identifies factors in economic, political and legal domains that incentivize and enable state officials and local cadres to capture returns from use of land. Relatedly, the study finds differences in conflict over property-rights regimes. Drawing on a pilot survey carried out by the authors in November of 2011 in Shaanxi and Jiangsu provinces (192 households in 24 villages), this paper seeks to explain heterogeneity and change in property-rights regimes over time and across space.


通过两轮的家庭联产承包, 土地的部分产权已经分到了农户手中。我们观察到不同村之间村民拥有土地的数量和管理土地权利交换的制度机制都存在显著不同。本研究显示有利于村干部和地方政府的行政机制普遍存在, 而有利于农户的市场机制仍然作用有限。本文区分了经济、政治、和法律因素对村干部和地方政府官员形成激励, 并使得他们从土地中获得好处。与此对应, 本文也发现了不同产权机制引起的冲突也不同。基于作者2011 年 11月在江苏省和陕西省进行的初步调查 (24 个村 192 农户), 本文意图解释这一土地产权机制的跨时空变化。

Copyright © SOAS University of London 2017 

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