Resources Science ›› 2019, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (7): 1339-1349.doi: 10.18402/resci.2019.07.14

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Rent-free land transfer in mountainous areas and its explanation

Yahui WANG1,2(), Xiubin LI3(), Liangjie XIN3   

  1. 1. School of Geographical Sciences, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
    2. State Cultivation Base of Eco-Agriculture for Southwest Mountainous Land, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
    3. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2019-01-18 Revised:2019-03-18 Online:2019-07-25 Published:2019-07-25


In recent years, rent-free land transfer in mountainous areas is increasingly prominent. Clarifying the extent of land transfer without rent in rural China and its explanation is of great value for the development of land rental market. On the basis of theoretical inference, the extent of rent-free land transfer was estimated at the land parcel scale and the Logit model was developed to empirically evaluate the impact of transaction costs on such transfer based on the survey data of farming households from Yongchuan District, Zhongxian County, and Youyang County of Chongqing Municipality. The results show that the proportion of the land parcels transferred at zero rent in the case study areas reached 78.62%, among which 75.47% of the land parcels were transferred to relatives or acquaintances. The empirical modeling results show that the existence of three types of transaction costs significantly increased the probability of rent-free land transfer. Low-cost brokerage, third-party coordination organizations, and signing of standardized written contracts in the process of land circulation can significantly reduce the probability of rent-free land transfer. The decline in rent caused by the marginalization of mountainous land is the root cause of rent-free land transfer, and high transaction cost is one of the important reasons for this type of transfer. The policy implication is that the reform of land system should focus on reducing all kinds of transaction costs faced by land transfer in mountainous areas. Low-cost transfer platforms as nodes at the county or township level should be established and guide the parties to sign standardized written contracts. In addition, the government should pay attention to the abandonment of cultivated land in mountainous areas and the depreciation of farmers’ cultivated land assets.

Key words: rent-free land transfer, transaction cost, land abandonment, mountainous areas, Logit model, land marginalization