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Open AccessArticle

Labor Off-Farm Employment and Cropland Abandonment in Rural China: Spatial Distribution and Empirical Analysis

1
Collage of Economics, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130, China
2
Sichuan Center for Rural Development Research, College of Management of Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu 611130, China
3
School of Economics of Sichuan University, Chengdu 610065, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work and should be regarded as co-first authors.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(9), 1808; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15091808
Received: 28 June 2018 / Revised: 4 August 2018 / Accepted: 15 August 2018 / Published: 22 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Science and Engineering)
Alleviating cropland misallocation is helpful for the sustainable development of agriculture. Does off-farm employment inevitably result in cropland misallocation (e.g., cropland abandonment) and threaten the sustainable development of agriculture? This study differs from prior studies in its view that off-farm employment does not necessarily result in cropland abandonment. Specifically, the study employs survey data from 8031 peasant households from 27 provinces in rural China and spatial statistics to analyze the distribution of off-farm employment and cropland abandonment. Empirical models (i.e., IV-Probit and IV-Tobit) are used to examine the quantitative relation between off-farm employment and cropland abandonment. The results are as follows. (1) The spatial distribution of off-farm employment or cropland abandonment differs among regions. Regions with a higher rate of off-farm employment show more cropland abandonment but a lower average area of cropland abandonment. (2) Off-farm employment has a significant and positive correlation with cropland abandonment. However, its square has a significant and negative correlation with cropland abandonment; i.e., there is an inverted U-shaped relationship between off-farm employment and cropland abandonment, with the turning point occurring at 46.00% off-farm employment. (3) Off-farm employment has a significant and positive correlation with the area of cropland abandonment. However, its square has a significant and negative correlation with the area; i.e., there is an inverted U-shaped relationship between off-farm employment and area, with the turning point occurring at 44.50% off-farm employment. This study reveals the relationship between off-farm employment and cropland abandonment and provides policymakers with references for use in developing sustainable agriculture. View Full-Text
Keywords: cropland abandonment; labor off-farm employment; spatial distribution; rural China cropland abandonment; labor off-farm employment; spatial distribution; rural China
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Deng, X.; Xu, D.; Qi, Y.; Zeng, M. Labor Off-Farm Employment and Cropland Abandonment in Rural China: Spatial Distribution and Empirical Analysis. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 1808.

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