Resources Science ›› 2021, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (2): 280-292.doi: 10.18402/resci.2021.02.07

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Impact of fallow on off-farm employment of farmers

XIE Xianxiong1,2(), DENG Yue1,2, LIU Jiyao1,2, LU Weinan1,2, ZHAO Minjuan1,2()   

  1. 1. College of Economics and Management, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
    2. Collaborative Innovation Center of Rural Economy and Social Development, Yangling 712100, China
  • Received:2020-04-08 Revised:2020-06-05 Online:2021-02-25 Published:2021-04-25
  • Contact: ZHAO Minjuan;


With the depletion of China’s surplus rural labor force, it is urgent to reform agricultural operations to release rural labor. Farmland fallow is a sustainable agricultural operation mode, and whether fallow can help promote the transfer of labor force to non-agricultural operations has become a practical issue. Based on the field survey data of 1240 households in the Northwest fallow pilot area, this study used the multivariate Probit, seemingly unrelated regressions (SUR), Heckman two-step, and instrumental variable methods to systematically examine the impact of fallow on off-farm employment from the aspects of employment decision making, employment choice, employment intensity, and employment income, and further investigated the heterogeneity of the impacts. The results show that: (1) Fallow can improve the probability of farmers’ off-farm employment, but the space of action is very limited, and the farmers tend to choose off-farm business. The impact of fallow on the intensity of farmers’ off-farm employment is mainly to increase the available time for off-farm work, and is not to increase the number of off-farm workers. The number of migrant workers increased only because fallow promoted the labor force in their families to shift from local off-farm employment to working outside the home area. Fallow is conducive to increasing farmers’ total off-farm income, migrant workers’ income, and off-farm business income, which is mainly achieved by making more time available for corresponding off-farm activities. (2) The heterogeneity analysis shows that the degree of fallow participation has a positive role in promoting farmers’ off-farm employment, but only when all the cultivated land of a household is involved in fallow can the off-farm employment probability of its members be significantly improved, and only when most of the cultivated land is involved in fallow can their off-farm employment intensity and income be improved. Fallow is beneficial for pure and type I part-time farmers’ off-farm employment probability and income; and it improves farmers’ off-farm employment intensity and income in the older age group, and has greater impact in the high education group than in the low education group.

Key words: farmland fallow, farmers’ off-farm employment, employment choice, employment intensity, employment income, instrumental variable, Northwest fallow pilot area