Village Political Economy, Land Tenure Insecurity and the Rural to Urban Migration Decision: Evidence from China

John Giles
Ren Mu

This paper finds that increases in the probability of facing a village-wide land reallocation is associated with a decline in the probability that a rural resident will migrate to urban China. A model is first developed to examine the village leader’s reallocation decision, and then to incorporate the village leader’s decision into an individual’s migration decision. Crucial for our identification, the heterogeneity of patrilineal clans within a village is associated with the cost of reallocating land. Next, we show that the probability of a village-wide reallocation is a function of exogenously determined election-timing interacted with the share of households in a village belonging to the largest patrilineal clan in the first year of a panel survey. This interaction is then used to identify the effect of land tenure insecurity on migration decisions.

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