Effects of Aging on Labor-Intensive Crop Production from the Perspectives of Landform and Life Cycle Labor Supply: Evidence from Chinese Apple Growers

Pingping Fang, Yiwen Wang, David Abler, Guanghua Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aging of the agricultural labor force is an irreversible trend that has become an important issue in China’s economic transformation. Previous studies on the effects of an aging population in developing countries on agriculture mainly focused on food crops, and the conclusions were mixed. Using data for apple growers in Shaanxi Province, China, we used ordinary least squares (OLS), stochastic frontier production function (SFA), and truncated regression to investigate how rural aging affects apple production under different landform conditions. We provided evidence that (i) aging leads apple growers to use hired labor to replace family labor in the flatlands, but not in mountainous and hilly areas, due to landform constraints on the factor substitution; (ii) aging has no significant impact on mechanical inputs in either the plains or the mountains, indicating that machinery cannot effectively replace the labor force; (iii) limited by a shortage of labor quantity and quality, apple growers respond to aging by reducing agricultural inputs in mountainous and hilly areas; (iv) changes in input structure cause aging to have little influence on yield and technical efficiency in flatlands, while aging significantly reduces yield in mountainous and hilly areas; (v) there is a nonlinear relationship between aging and technical efficiency and yield; and (vi) because the overall mechanization level of China’s apple industry is low, mechanical substitution for labor is not common in apple production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1523
JournalAgriculture (Switzerland)
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

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