Farmland Rental: The Impacts of Household Demographics and Livelihood Strategies in China

Shuai Zhou, Guangqing Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In recent decades, there has been a rising global trend of farmland rental. Previous studies have explored the impacts of individual and household sociodemographics on farmland rental, but a holistic understanding of farmland rental in association with households’ demographics and livelihood strategies has not been achieved. Using data from the China Family Panel Studies 2012–2016, we investigated the association of farmland rental with household demographics and livelihood strategies in rural China. The results suggest that farmers in rural China tend to keep a balance between landholding and household needs, a finding that not only supports the labor–consumer balance theory, but also extends its application to a capitalized and increasingly mobile society. Larger and/or married-couple households were less likely to rent out their farmland, and the household decision-maker’s education level was positively associated with the probability of renting out farmland. The household decision-maker’s age was negatively associated with farmland rental up to age 34, after which it has a positive effect, demonstrating a non-linear, U-shaped relationship. Livelihood strategies, including non-farm employment and migration, were positively associated with farmland rental, whereas agricultural income showed a negative effect. This study extends the understanding of factors influencing farmland rental in areas where increasing migration could reshape farmland disposal, a common scenario in contemporary China and many developing countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1318
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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